From the Fitbit that rumbles when you hit 10,000 steps, to the feeling of mental superiority you feel every time you top a new personal best on Lumosity, gamification is everywhere. Jesse Lewis, social consultant at Fuel and N2N Communications, breaks down how adding an element of gaming to your product or service can help guide your customer to feel real brand love.
My day is full of games. When I wake up in the morning, my smartphone runs an app and I have to solve a puzzle before I can switch off the alarm. Another app will give me points if I eat a healthy breakfast or go on a morning run. I head to my favourite coffee spot and get my reward card stamped (only two away from the freebie!), and then I’ll head to work where I boost up productivity apps to make my seemingly unending list of daily tasks seem achievable. Sometimes I feel like I’m a kid again, shooting dirty laundry into a basket for three points each, pretending I play for the Charlotte Hornets.
In search of the elusive ‘brand love’
Gamification is a simple premise really. If you apply a game to menial daily tasks, or an element of your life you feel you need a little kick, you’ll be more motivated to complete tasks because of the perceived reception of a reward.
Lifehacker summed up the psychology behind it quite well, writing, “dopamine [that warm, fuzzy feeling] is your brain’s version of a carrot. The more goals you achieve, the more dopamine it releases, and the easier it is to stay motivated. Gamification tries to tap into this by offering you rewards for the completion of small goals.” On the outside though, gamification incorporates elements of fun and competition to a marketing strategy; but most importantly, it delivers the consumer a level of autonomy over the brand.
It doesn’t just stop at motivating people to better themselves though. Gamifying parts of a brand story or product can actually have a huge affect on converting consumers to feel that elusive real ‘brand love’ purely by rewarding them with something fun or unique. Take the success of the recent Kit Kat Studio for example. There was incredible Sydney-sider demand to get our mits on a customised version of only the fourth most popular chocolate in Australia, simply because we had control over a ‘choose your adventure’ style process that made us the driver. As a result, hundreds of people a day lined up for hours to get four small fingers of chocolate and raved about the experience.
How do we get people to consume more of our product at a deeper level than ever before?
In some instances, the gamification of a product can take on a life of it’s own. You only have to point to the boom of fantasy sports in the USA (now entering into Australia) to see this in action. For those of you not in the know, it goes like this: In fantasy sports, you play the role of the manager. You pick a team of real-life players from a league to fill your roster and you earn points each week based on how well or poorly your team of players perform in the actual game. These points are tallied up against another player’s unique team to decide who wins.
Now, the sports industry is obviously one of the easiest to gamify, but leagues like the NFL and NBA in America have recognised the huge consumer popularity of fantasy (51.8 million players in the US and Canada alone), and have reaped the rewards in the way of higher ratings, more viewership and increased engagement during non prime-time games. It was also stated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association that players consume 40 per cent more sports content after becoming players. Essentially, fans went from supporting their own team each week, to being ingrained in the inner workings of every team league-wide and feeling that genuine love for the brand each season, as well as the desire to watch more and more content because of their personal stake in it.
The sporting industries’ answer to the aforementioned question was in a game that not just athletes, but everyone could play. That game now has an eco-system of it’s own that continues to drive incredible business results for the sporting codes, television networks and media publications it formed around.
It’s all fun and games
For many brands, gamifying their product or service in a way that makes it relevant for consumers can be the most clear cut road to increased engagement, brand recognition (and love) and driving solid, measureable business results. The best part is, you can apply it to nearly anything. Fanta did it. Nissan did it. Hungry Jacks nailed it. The key is to make it relatable, make it something common to the everyday, and most importantly, make it fun. It’s meant to be a game after all.