by Jessica Oaks
Gamification is not a new idea. It has been used in education for decades to help engage students and improve learning outcomes, and many businesses leverage it to increase production, foster employee relationships, and improve morale. Perhaps best of all, the end goal of gamification can be tailored to an organization’s specific needs. Do you want to boost output? Make production a contest amongst employees. Do you want to help students engage with coursework? Provide rewards for top-performing students. It’s a tried-and-true methodology.
Recently, however, gamification has started to gain in popularity. Increasingly, businesses are starting to adopt gamification for marketing and brand awareness initiatives – not merely for purposes of production output or efficiency. Though this isn’t strictly a new phenomenon – anyone who has taken part in McDonald’s’ Monopoly sweepstakes knows just how effective gamification can be at incentivizing customers – more businesses are starting to experiment with this tactic than ever before. And it comes down to how easily customers are reached in today’s digital age.
A Changing Digital Landscape.
With the most sophisticated mobile processors the world has ever seen now included as standard in every smartphone and tablet, the modern consumer is within reach everywhere and at all times. And these devices are enabling them to interact with friends, family members, strangers, and businesses alike in new and exciting ways. Today’s luxury brands can take advantage of this new digital connection to form a lasting relationship with consumers – and in the process, drive sales and grow revenue.
The general concept is simple: by employing gaming mechanics for tasks that might otherwise be boring or tiresome, you can incentivize individuals to participate. How can this approach impact online shopping? The possibilities are nearly endless, really. Luxury brands have already experimented with gamification and come away with positive results. Fashion house Jimmy Choo used an online scavenger hunt to introduce new sneakers to its clientele, while British heritage brand, Dunhill, sold World Cup-themed ties via an online gaming application. These brands incentivized customers through unique offers, and the customers responded.
So why do these initiatives work? Most simply, because they are fun. Gamification provides all new ways for consumers to interact with the brands they love, and provides new incentive to learn about and engage with brands consumers might otherwise ignore (or not know about). For example, pizza chain Dominos has used its gaming apps to stand out in a crowded market and offer customers something unique. What’s interesting is that the company chose to focus on the user experience rather than the product. And it has worked. Online sales now account for roughly 40 percent of all purchases.
What Can Luxury Brands Learn from the Big Names?
Luxury brands have already experimented with gamification to bolster brand awareness and drive revenue. But there is still much that can be done in the luxury segment. A 3D pizza building app begs to be played – so much so that customers whose loyalties lie elsewhere might be convinced to give Dominos a try simply because of the app – but such an application would be ill-suited to a company like Prada or Hermès. The question is, how can luxury brands utilize gamification in a way that doesn’t come across as gimmicky?
Product discounts, VIP privileges, “high-end” digital badges on social platforms, and tailored and exclusive content are all potential rewards that luxury brands could offer their consumers. Ultimately, the mechanics of the game don’t (and shouldn’t) change much. For a luxury brand to take advantage of gamification, it all comes down to presentation. If luxury brands tailor gaming around the needs, wishes, and preferences of high-end buyers (as has already been done), the results might just speak for themselves. And thanks to tablets and smartphones, these consumers are merely a mobile app, online game, or social platform away.
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.