Can gamification really help to widen customer commitment?

The concept of playing games has been with us since the dawn of mankind, or at least written history.  Games, particularly those of the ‘video’ variety, continue to strongly influence consumers and entertainment trends as well, which is only further proof that virtually everyone likes some form of gaming.  Just in case you are skeptical, here are some statistics (from 2010) which come from the ESRB, among other sources:

  • Around 67% of households in the US contain at least 1 video game console
  • In 2009, the video game industry pulled in a whopping $10.5 billion
  • The average gamer today is in their mid 30’s
  • At least 40% of the gaming population is female

In other words, it’s a safe bet for most companies to attempt to engage consumers with some form of gaming, if for no other reason than a majority of the population is already familiar with more complex forms.  In fact, one might even say that it’s critical for businesses to reach out to consumers in a way that speaks directly to their experience.  Given that certain products tend to appeal to specific age groups, for example, it only makes sense for companies that specialize in cereals, for example, to find new ways to engage the younger video game crowd.

But getting back to the business end of gamification, one might be inclined to wonder just how important gamification is likely to become.  Well, according to this Gartner research study:

“By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes…”

“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 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.”

 

The takeaway point is that there are plenty of trends and reasons as to why gamification will continue to grow throughout the course of the coming years.  Moreover, this should be a big wake-up call for those organizations who might have been neglecting this new and exciting form of consumer marketing.  As the above trending predictions indicate, most companies are gamifying themselves both inside and out, and for good reason, there is plenty of evidence to support the notion that gamification works.  For instance, Playboy has recently been experimenting with gamification courtesy of Bunchball and has been reporting increases in terms of both revenues and total users engaged (60% increase in revenue from month-to-month, with 85% of respondents returning to the app/site).

But beyond the limited statistical evidence which is available, it’s fairly obvious that the desire to engage in fun, competitive tasks is pretty much hard-wired into most human being.   Rather than attempting to derail these natural tendencies, it only seems logical and fitting that they might be used to further drive consumers toward the products and services they need.  Businesses which are producing useful and valuable products or promoting extremely useful concepts need marketing tools like gamification in order to deliver higher quality and innovation.

People often forget that advancement / improvement requires hefty investments on the part of the participating company. Needless to say, if gamification can help to stabilize consumer audiences, a quicker succession of technical advances might become possible which ultimately leads to more profound technological progress which in turn may bring about sweeping societal advances.  Of course this is largely speculation; no one can peer into the future and simply know what’s going to happen.  However, increased emphasis on gamification is producing quantifiable benefits for real companies in the present time; certainly this is reason enough to merit further investigation of it.

Furthermore, as it becomes possible to build a larger, more devoted customer base, social media will help to expand an operation beyond its borders.  These days, all it really takes is a well-placed viral internet campaign and a solid strategy to completely revitalize the profit margins of virtually any organization.  The increasing move toward more widespread use of basic gamification techniques means that most consumers will soon be used to the idea of interactivity.  As previously explained, given that most of these same consumers are already ‘gamers’ (either traditional console or through social media), it’s pretty obvious that they’re fully prepared and understand how to participate.

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