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Leveraging game-based technology to engage shoppers, drive loyalty

CHICAGO — What helps build loyalty, but is not considered a loyalty program? What is fun, exciting and rewarding, and at the same time strategic, planned and designed to drive trips and/or purchases?

Gamification. It’s the latest buzzword among brand marketers, and it’s gaining traction as early adopters begin to revolutionize the way customer engagement is done.

The reasons behind gamification are simple. It not only engages the consumer, it derives a commitment from the consumer; it not only engenders loyalty, it creates brand advocates; and gamified consumers not only become repeat purchasers, they also act as billboards for the brand.

Why gamify?
“It’s a way to use technology a lot of times on a very personal level,” noted Scott Shamberg, SVP growth and emerging commerce at TPN, during a breakout session at the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo here, on Oct. 10. “You can customize the program to meet the insights you already have about your target,” he said. “You can match those insights with game mechanics to drive further engagement.”

Successful gamification strategies are based on five strategies: a value exchange, acknowledgement, “bragability,” the utilization of mobile, and social networks and status. “At its core, you tap into this idea of everybody wanting their 15 minutes of fame,” Shamberg said. “That’s what Facebook, to an extent, tapped into.”

How do you gamify?
More and more, gamification is becoming an industry in and of itself, and the options available to marketers are akin to buying a home: build a gamification platform from the ground up, buy a currently-existing platform and customize it to the brand, or rent a gamification platform.

Each of the strategies has its own pros and cons, noted Sarah Ortman, senior group manager of consumer and shopper promotions for Clorox. “[For example], the pro of building your own customer gaming experience is you get exactly what you want,” she said. “The challenge is there is a lot of planning and resourcing. And there is investment and risk that’s inherent,” she added. Building from the ground up also could take the most time to bring the program to market.

Buying a pre-existing platform and customizing the experience may be more cost-effective and also represents a faster turnaround to market. However, the experience may not be fully customizable.

Finally, renting represents the fastest speed to market, but the brand doesn’t own the community or experience. An example of a successful rental experience is Target’s partnership with Shopkick. Target wanted to reward its loyal guests during the entire shopping process, as well as further engage them in store and at shelf, Ortman noted. Target partnered with Shopkick and rewarded its guests with “kicks” for browsing products online, visiting select stores or participating in “scan missions” in which participants have to scan certain products at shelf. Those “kicks” can then be used toward the purchase of gift cards. Shopkick’s game-centric platform further enhanced the shopping experience, Ortman noted.

For those marketers serious about deploying a gamification platform, Shamberg and Ortman shared a list of the eight questions every marketer should ask before taking the next step:

  1. Is the gamification initiative grounded in insights and strategies?
  2. Do you have the right team in place to support and sustain it once you build it?
  3. Do you have an existing loyalty base you are engaging? If not, do you know the audience size that would indicate success and how you would reach them?
  4. Do you know the investment level you are willing to commit to creation and maintenance?
  5. Are you equipped with the technology and prepared to respond to the pace of change?
  6. Have you defined success metrics?
  7. Do you have a clearly defined payoff for the consumer and the brand?
  8. Does your customer purchase online or in-store? How does this program support this behavior?

For more DSN coverage from the Shopper Marketing Expo, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Shopper-Marketing-Expo.

 

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