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Beyond Loyalty Programs—5 Ways to Drive Shopper Engagement Using Mobile Gamification

What exactly is mobile gamification?

Simply put, mobile gamification applies game design principles in non-game settings as a means to reward people for interacting with your brands. The better the reward connects with your target audience’s wants and needs, the better the engagement you’ll achieve, which can help to drive brand loyalty and increased revenue.

Customer loyalty programs are one of the most common ways that gamification is applied. And by many accounts, well-thought-out loyalty programs are able to influence decision-making: Nielsen found that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to choose retailers that offer such programs. Further, research from Bond Loyalty (reported here) suggests that 66 percent of consumers modify their spend to maximize points. (For more details on different types of customer loyalty programs, check out this article from Shopify.)

Yet, loyalty programs are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to gamify your retail business. Whether you amplify your communications with points, rankings, badges, contests, interactive communities or other techniques, gamification can help brands and messages stand out from the crowd.

Gamification isn't just about financial payoff

Though monetary rewards are known to drive user uptake, the value you offer to customers through gamification can go well beyond a financial payoff. Gamification taps into both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, which work together to persuade users to increase the frequency of engagement with your brand. Using these tactics creates longer lasting results than a simple coupon or discount.

Ultimately, any mobile gamification tools or techniques you enlist should tie into the key motivators of your most valuable audience members. Think about other incentives that drive consumer behavior, such as:

  • Receiving recognition (e.g., a shout-out by a brand on social media)
  • Gaining bragging rights (e.g., being the first shopper to gain access to a new product being launched)
  • Tapping into users’ FOMO (e.g., by promoting a limited-time product offer or experience).

This is where forward-thinking, data-oriented marketers will come out ahead, because the best way to know what makes your consumers tick is through the demographic, psychographic and behavioural data you collect on them (in tandem with the data you can access through third parties, such as media companies/publishers, research firms, and others).

For an in-depth example of interactive shopper engagement in action, consider this proof of concept for a future-forward grocery shopping solution that utilizes role-playing to “turn a dull chore into a fun activity for consumers”:

Using a highly-interactive, AI-driven mobile app, users can build a shopping list or shop on the fly. If they’ve uploaded a shopping list, the app delivers the experience of walking through brick-and-mortar store, and will visually navigate to the aisles where the listed items are stocked. The shopper has the opportunity to select the product from a range of SKUs on offer (including competitive brands and pricing), pick items up, inspect them (via dynamic product images and details posted about the item on the device’s screen), and put them in their shopping cart. As they shop, the app scans the order and provides the best offers available, which can then be redeemed at checkout. Consider adding several proven CX-building trends to the experience, including multiple quick-pay solutions, such as Apple Pay or other mobile wallet applications, as well as flexible delivery options that suit all types of customers.

Granted, this is a pretty exhaustive mobile shopping experience, and it’s likely well outside the comfort zone of most retail organizations. But if you’re considering ways to leverage gamification to drive better consumer–brand engagement, consider how you might adapt one or more of the following retail brands’ gamification initiatives for your own eCommerce business:

  1. Nike+’s interactive community turns everyday exercise into a competition: Users can record pace, distance and run routes, to train and challenge themselves as well as compete with friends, family members, and other users. The app also offers engaging omnichannel features, including a module that allows users to instantly share stats across social media. 
  2. Samsung Nation’s social rewards program takes interactivity to the next level: A combination of activities and rewards engages existing Samsung enthusiasts and creates brand new ones: Visitors can earn badges and “level up” by reviewing products, watching videos and participating in user-generated Q&As. Members can also earn rewards for making purchases and using Samsung apps (Bixby, Samsung Internet and Samsung Health), which can be redeemed on participating products and services.
  3. Coca-Cola and Nescafé’s mobile-optimized POP promotions reward customer buy-in: Powered by retail engagement firm Ksubaka, Coca-Cola and Nescafé both leveraged interactive apps to deliver ‘MoJos’ (Moments of Joy)—in this case, loyalty points or mobile coupons—to consumers in Beijing and Singapore when they were about to make a purchasing decision. Coca-Cola opted to use an Angry Bird-like mobile game that enabled users to throw virtual ice cubes into a glass to make the perfect fizzling Coke beverage. If a shopper was nearby a Coke display and was waffling about which brand of soda to purchase, he or she could play the game and receive a prize, which in turn could cement his or her decision to buy Coca-Cola. In contrast, Nescafé sought to make the coffee-pouring process into an engaging game. In-store shoppers were encouraged to shuffling mugs, one of which held Nescafé coffee. Consumers then had to track the cup as it spun around others, only winning if they’d correctly identified it.
  4. Bonobos’ scavenger hunt system made it fun (and rewarding!) to shop for men’s luxury apparel: In a collaborative effort with the design network and using Twitter #secretcode, Bonobos launched an Easter Egg–based campaign in 2011, where hidden images of models dressed in Bonobos signature pants were placed throughout the NotCot and NotCouture site. The first 50 people to find the images each day received a $25 Bonobos credit plus free shipping. As an added bonus, visitors who were able to find a guy in paisley pants received a special code for $100 off their purchase.
  5. Best Buy’s branded Cityville presence was a first for the game: On August 31, 2011, Best Buy became the first virtual branded retail store in CityVille, a game developed and managed by Zynga. For one week, Zynga allowed its users to place a Best Buy store in their own city. (Prior to this, other businesses could be placed in the game, but they all had generic names, such as “bakery” or “hardware store.”) And just like the more generic businesses, players could collect various bonuses from the store in the form of high payouts, extra points and energy, as well as five special collection items (a smartphone, a refrigerator, a TV, a DSLR camera and a Deal of the Day badge). If a player was successful in collecting these items, they were rewarded with a special Best Buy decoration.

Articles and resources by the Mercatus team to help guide you on your eCommerce journey.

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