Think BR: Playing with gamification can help promotional marketers win big
For promotional marketers who get it right, gamification could offer great rewards, writes Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA.
Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA
Gamification is the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications. It is already being applied in many different business functions across all manner of companies, creating an industry in its own right
Over the past year the American gamification market has grown 150% to $200 million - and analysts are forecasting that the industry will be worth $2.8 Billion by 2016. This boom is illustrated by a recent three-day Gamification Summit in San Francisco which was attended by 650 delegates with a wide variety of roles, from all kinds of companies from Oracle to SAP.
The concept is capturing the attention of promotional marketers, particularly in the US, where corporations like Sony, McDonalds and Subway have run huge gamification campaigns
As ever, the UK is not far behind. McCain has just run an on-pack campaign encouraging women to play a ‘Lucky Spuds’ Facebook game to win cash prizes. And, with the festivals season in mind, Ribena purchasers can currently play ‘Welly Wang’ to win their own pair of designer wellies.
Marketing mirrors life and, for many of us, today’s life involves gaming. Whereas gaming was once associated with younger men, recent ICM research revealed that 42% of British women over 45 described themselves as gamers.
The variety of gaming platforms has widened player demographics. While the young are more likely to be gaming on handheld devices, ‘mumsnetters’ entertain themselves via laptops and PCs, or console games such as Wii Fit. And, according to ICM, ‘playing regularly’ means every day, while one in three Facebook gamers spend three to four hours at a time gaming.
A recent survey for gaming site GameHouse by research company NewZoo found that 9% more people are gaming than a year ago and spending 19% more of their free time playing online. The research also demonstrated the impact of smartphones with figures showing that mobile gaming has risen by 18%.
So - apart from great games - what are the drivers of the gaming phenomenon? And how can marketers exploit the trend to ‘win big’?
How can marketers win at gamification?
Popular culture now revolves around participative entertainment - Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor, Strictly, etc.
We want a sense of deeper involvement; we want to vote for our favourites and share our views about them through social media.
Gaming on platforms like Facebook (eg, Farmville and Words with Friends) often involves sharing the fun with family and friends. Gaming has become a mainstream leisure pursuit driven by participative experiences and social values.
Of course, gamification has been around for many years - but without a catchy label. McDonalds, for example, has been running its Monopoly promotion since 1987. The ‘McMonopoly’ challenge is to collect the various Monopoly pieces in a game, harking back to the school yard obsession with collectable sports cards.
We all remember the fun of buying and trading to get a full set - including those elusive rare cards. Companies can follow McDonalds and capitalise on these participative childhood memories by using familiar game brands or - especially on digital platforms - creating their own branded game experiences, as Muller has recently done for its yoghurts.
At PIMS-SCA we’ve witnessed the extent to which consumers are willing to engage with branded games and game-like experiences, whether online or in live environments. After all, everyone loves having fun and being entertained.
The early examples of gamification awarded points to people who shared experiences through social media.
Now, however, there are various techniques, ranging from the earning of achievement points to the chance to win big ticket prizes such as cars, holidays and cash.
We can expect gamification applications to crop up everywhere. Games could encourage people to perform tasks they might normally find mundane, such as completing surveys. They could be used to impart difficult or complex information in entertaining ways, for example, as part of a training programme.
A recent Gartner report predicts that by 2015, 50% of organisations will gamify their innovation processes. The report concludes: "By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application."
And for those promotional marketers who get it right, gamification could be the answer to that most elusive of objectives: consumer engagement that is both mile wide and mile deep.
Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA
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