Why Gamification And Promotions Are A Match Made In Heaven

Feb 16, 2021


Gamification is as fun as it sounds. Basically, it means applying game mechanics such as point scoring, competition and rules of play to non-gaming environments, to engage and motivate people to change their behavior, or achieve certain goals.

Contrary to modern visions of ‘gaming’ involving a screen and controller (cheers, Nintendo et al.), it needn’t be a digital experience. If you’ve ever cut out a coupon, stamped a loyalty card, or entered a prize draw, you’ve taken part in a sales-promoting ‘game’ designed by a brand. From one-off rewards to sophisticated, drawn-out campaigns, gamification is about making the consumer experience more interactive and exciting.

McDonald’s encourages brand loyalty with Monopoly-themed sales promotion

Using gamification in its most literal sense, McDonald’s created a rewards campaign based on the popular boardgame, Monopoly. For a limited time, customers can collect stickers on food packaging that either offer an ‘instant win’, meaning they can redeem for free food at the counter, or a property piece to collect on a game board either in real life or online.

As in traditional Monopoly, the aim is to collect a whole street or set of property pieces to win prizes ranging from experience vouchers, to games consoles, to $10,000 in cash. Only missing one property in Mayfair? You bet you’ll buy another Big Mac.

How does gamification work?

Gamification taps into the brain’s reward system. Neurons that release dopamine are activated when we expect to receive a reward, which encourages us to behave in a similar way again. Marketing potential abound.

Plus, the expectation of a reward (rather than actually receiving it) powerfully influences emotional reactions and memories. So, if you want to form emotional connections with customers, introducing gamification to your marketing strategy is an excellent way to start.

Turn your business targets into a game for customers

The beauty of gamification is you can adapt the behaviour you encourage to your business targets. Looking to improve brand loyalty? Giving points or rewards for regular interactions with your brand could be the way to go – whether it’s purchases, store visits, or app uses, for example.

If you’re focused on increasing sales and market share, you might introduce target-based rewards, instead. You could reward an elected number of referrals with a voucher. You could include a free gift with a one-time spend over a certain amount. Or, you might award ‘VIP’ benefits to customers who’ve made a given number of purchases in a year.

Perhaps you want to increase engagement with your brand among a specific demographic? Then a creative, immersive online or real-life gaming event is a smart way of tapping into the experience economy and creating a talking point among your target audience.

Create a unique, on-brand gamification experience

Unlike discount promotions, gamification is not a one-size-fits-all solution. As a promotional strategy, it offers endless opportunities to create an emotional, on-brand experience that increases brand visibility, encourages positive brand associations and, ultimately, leads to greater brand loyalty.

Get creative with your format. Weave in your brand narrative. Utilise the halo effect by choosing rewards that reflect well on your brand. Use what you know about your ideal customer to formulate prizes that keep them coming back for more. The only limit to gamification is your imagination – great news for marketers who want to grow your brand sustainably through thoughtful, emotive interactions that go beyond a single transaction.

Gamification can have a great Return on Investment

Not only is gamification an effective sales promotion idea, it’s also cost-effective. With daily or target-based rewards, payback is cumulative – meaning you spread the cost of the reward across the many interactions or purchases the customer must make to earn it.

Meanwhile, by adjusting the winning odds using game mechanics, you can run campaigns like prize giveaways or scratch cards without committing to a massive payout. In fact, at RIX we can create gamified experience rewards to suit any budget.

Yet customers’ value perception of an experience reward is often much higher than the actual cost. The result? As well as differentiating your offering from competitors’, by offering consumers something extra, gamification actually increases the value of your product or service, too. We’d say that makes you a winner, wouldn’t you?

Building an interactive virtual stadium to reengage football fans

With COVID-induced live-audience restrictions, football clubs are facing less fan engagement and smaller TV viewerships, meaning they’re unable to meet sponsorship obligation and leading to sinking revenue.

Tackling the challenge with gamification, RIX created an app-based virtual stadium. Fans register from 48 hours before the game and are invited to ‘take their seat’ when the game begins. Every time their team scores, they too have the opportunity to ‘score a goal’ by uncovering the same sponsor logo three times on a digital scratchcard for a chance to win sponsor-provided prizes.

Thanks to savvy game mechanics, the virtual stadium brings in significantly more revenue than what it costs. All while increasing fan reengagement, partner exposure and revenue through merchandising and incremental sponsorships. 1-0 to football!


Would you like to find out how we can help you bring your sales promotion to the next level? Then schedule a free consultation today and get some unique ideas that will help you stand out from your competition!

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