Gamification for Retailers


Gamfication — the use of gaming principles and technologies to drive customer engagement — is the most unique business development to emerge in the past couple of years.  Gamification is a triple-threat strategy.  Properly executed it can drive higher customer loyalty, increase marketing efficiencies and boost brand differentiation.   Of the many industries it is being implemented, retailing has produced some of the most interesting case studies. Below are two of the most noteworthy examples, as overviewed in Retail TouchPoints magazine:

Duane Reade

Duane Reade is a leading pharmacy chain with over 250 stores in the New York City metropolitan area.  Duane Reade has used Gamification in conjunction with a variety of social media platforms over the past 18 months to build sales, brand awareness, and customer engagement.  Its Gamification initiative features a location-based game using smartphones and a variety of social media sites like Facebook and Foursquare.   Users first have to download an app that contains a storyline.  This story features two factions, each battling to control a recently discovered resource called Exotic Matter. Players choose a faction to join and compete against one another in teams to “control” territory.  A sprinkling of logos found in 250 Duane Reade stores marks this territory.  Customers would go to one of the stores, scan the logos and download promotional offers, collect virtual resources or collaboratively solve puzzles.

The marketing results have been impressive. Duane Reade has seen a sharp increase in web and in-store presence as well as higher brand awareness and deeper customer engagement. As of March 2013, Duane Reade has been mentioned and/or shared more than 1,500 times.  The Company recognizes that getting their customers to play fun games is an effective and efficient way to drive business results and collect user data. According to Duane Reade spokesperson Calvin Peters: “Strategically engaging gamification experiences that utilize location-based gaming platforms, are becoming increasingly relevant as mobile concentration within the retail space continues to expand. It is important for us to be where our consumers are, including the virtual world.”

Whole Foods

This upscale grocery chain uses Gamification in a different way.  Instead of a stand-alone marketing program like Duane Reade, Whole Foods leverages game mechanics to enhance the social media and mobile components of existing marketing campaigns. In a recent promotion, Whole Foods rolled out the “14-Day Blast Off” campaign, which challenged consumers with a set of tasks that focus on making healthy life choices such as getting daily exercise or eating better. Throughout the course of two weeks, badges were given after participants completed one mission of healthy living per day. The missions were designed to ease the players into healthy living with small but important gains. Whole Foods understands that its consumers want to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle.  Instead of pushing out information, this campaign used fun and engaging missions (i.e. games) that promoted the desired behavioral change.  Interestingly, Whole Foods also uses Gamification to promote positive behavioral change among employees.  If the employee can achieve company goals like losing weight, they can get a discount on products.

Three elements made these programs successful.  Each integrates Gamification as part of its existing online and offline marketing campaigns and business strategies; the retailers linked game mechanics to their deep understanding of a user’s habits and practices; and; their executions were fun and engaging, tapping into a consumer’s intrinsic desires like competition and achievement.  As well, there are now enough successful Gamification examples across multiple sectors to generate best practices around program design and implementation.

For more information on our services and work, please visit us at Quanta Consulting Inc.

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