Gamification in 2021: Playing to Win

The gamification market is growing rapidly, with Fortune magazine reporting an estimated value of $6.3 billion in 2019 and a projected value of $37 billion in 2027. So, what exactly is gamification? Gamification is “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.”1 In other words, gamification brings gaming elements into non-gaming environments to drive users towards an objective.

Over the years, the growth of gamification has gone hand-in-hand with advancing technologies: from the rise of smart phones and social media platforms to more recent innovations like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Livestreaming, new technologies continually enrich gamification with greater possibilities.

Nonetheless, winning market shares is not only about the latest technology. Mobile gaming, for example, makes up the lion’s share of the gaming industry, accounting for over 43% of the $177.8 billion market—and rendering it one of the highest performing industries of 2020 with a total of $77.2 billion in revenue. Its low barriers to entry for developers and heightened accessibility to players are, at least in part, to thank.

Consequently, gamification in marketing has become ubiquitous in mobile-first countries like China, which boasts 1.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions. The 1.8 trillion e-commerce market is not only the biggest in the world, but also highly sophisticated and eager to adopt new content and technologies. A classic example is the Chinese New Year red envelope. Originally a holiday custom during which family members gift each other money for good luck, the tradition saw a recorded 11 billion “shakes” on the app WeChat from 20 million users on New Year’s Eve 2015. The result: a billion virtual red envelopes were sent in one day. Since then, CNY red envelopes have become the ultimate battlefield for Chinese corporate giants.

Gamification can help your brand in several ways:

1. Brand awareness

60% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a brand if they enjoyed playing a game with it.2 Last year during the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art made their collection available around the world to 13 million players of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game. The players could display the artworks in their own virtual houses as part of this educational, as well as entertaining, campaign.

2. Enhanced brand loyalty

Among the big online players, sportswear giant Nike ranks ninth in customer loyalty. Customers can become brand members through the Nike website or any of its four apps: the Nike App, Nike+ Run Club, Nike Training Club and SNKRS. Indeed, Nike+ Run Club has become the #1 running app in the world: in 2020, the branded app saw over 15.4 million downloads with a 45% growth rate. The Nike universe perfectly embodies how gamification can build brand loyalty, community and an omni-channel experience.

3. Gen Z targeting

Generation Z—a generation practically synonymous with gaming—will soon become society’s largest group of consumers. Roblox, the popular social gaming platform, offers a glimpse of how the younger generation prefers to interact with each other in a virtual gaming environment, with a whopping 67% of users under the age of 16.

4. Data collection

In 2018, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has made collecting data more difficult in marketing campaigns. One way to obtain GDPR compliant data is gamification. Through virtual games, brands create multiple customer touchpoints to engage and collect data on consumer behaviors and demographic information.
Gamification must therefore be taken into account in the digital strategy. If you’d like to learn more about gamification, feel free to reach out to our team.



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