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Are you Game?

I was intrigued when my son walked up to me with a request to order a pizza he had made on ipad game app from Dominos. The fun and excitement of playing the game coupled with pride of self-accomplishment was inescapable in his eyes...we did order the pizza and it was clear that Dominos now had a new Gen Y consumer.

Retailers have begun experimenting with gamification - a process of utilizing game mechanics like points, levels, badges, status, rewards, leaderboards for effective consumer engagement and participation across channels. Starbuck and foursquare awards users with virtual points and badges for visiting retails stores. Travel industry has long been using Frequent Flyer program to award priority access and redeemable points to loyal customers playing miles game.

Gamification enables businesses to encourage desired consumer behavior and actions by providing commensurate rewards and incentives. For example, a retailer looking to increase consumer involvement and loyalty can turn a visit to their store or website into a fun game.  Consumers would get points for different activities like store check-in, sharing the latest product pictures on Facebook , signing up for newsletter or clienteling, attending  store events , watching new product  videos , becoming brand ambassador etc .Consumers redeem earned points for purchases or gift cards or exclusive offers. As consumers compete with others in ecosystem and level up, they can unlock badges which give them privileged access like insider view into latest product releases or special promotional giveaways valued by consumers.

Looking closely, gamification enables brands fulfill human need for competition, achievement, exploration, status and fun during consumer interactions. In return, brands benefit with improved product intimacy through meaningful product interactions, increased loyalty through fun and rewards and above all, active user involvement and participation. It also enables brands to tie in online behavior like watching a product video clip to actual purchase which can be used for extensive customer analytics and targeted marketing campaigns.

Gamification is still new but is gaining traction in powering loyalty programs and marketing campaigns. Samsung has launched a loyalty game called "Samsung Nation leveraging gamification principles.

Gamification strategies work best when they are aligned with business goals and consumer interests. Do you see brands leveraging gamification strategies to drive consumer interaction across channels in coming years?

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