Gamification: A mobile tool to help big brands feel small
By Liz Wilson, CMW
For brands the path to the consumer has never been so vast and complex with 15 billion web impressions and £1bn spent online during one day in the run-up to last Christmas. Even for the festive season that’s a lot of clutter for brands to navigate through their communications strategy. On top of this, shoppers now expect more from brands and what they have to offer.
A recent Nielsen study shows that a global shift in consumer mindset has taken place as a greater focus on getting value for money from purchases takes hold. Sixty-one per cent of consumers rated ‘value for money’ ahead of getting the cheapest deal possible when they named the principle concern that drives their decision-making at the tills. With this in mind, brands need to evolve and find the best way to reach the consumer in a way that offers them true value beyond price.
The advances in technology, and in particular, the continued proliferation of mobile devices offers a clear and consistent path to the consumer. In April 2012, smartphone penetration in the UK passed the 50% mark. These devices have become prominent in everyday life and represent something that consumers interact with at intimate times in their day, or a way to get your brand into their pocket. This means that in the marketer’s box of tricks, mobile offers true potential for brands to unpick the lock to consumer loyalty and build brand value.
One of the most successful ways that brands have utilised mobile is gamification, a concept that is easy to dismiss as a fad, but a practice that can promise real value. It offers the potential to engage consumers by making processes and experiences their most entertaining; and it offers the possibility to do that anytime, anywhere. Games can go where brands sometimes can’t – they can cut through barriers and create a new framework for interaction with our consumers, not just digitally but also face-to-face. Gamification is a set of principles that can be applied in so many different ways, leveraging both existing and newly-created content.
Brands can therefore introduce gamification into their existing and planned marketing activity. At CMW, we helped Kellogg’s launch its youth-targeted breakfast cereal with a game called ‘Krave Krusader’, which enabled players to create their own personalised Krave character and shape their playing experience for a more special, relevant and emotionally rewarding experience. And a key element of creating long term loyalty, supported by repeat purchase, is closely related to personal experiences like this. In this instance, with ambitious launch objectives in mind, consumers could unlock new exclusive levels of the game by scanning a code on the cereal pack as they bought each new box. And of course, as a launch, it was extremely important to create the sense of a shared experience between brand and consumer, which is what a specially designed game like this was able to achieve.
Meanwhile, one of the most talked about marketing phenomena of the last couple of years has been Nike’s innovation designed to motivate consumers to help them achieve their fitness goals with Nike+ and Fuelband. This brilliant game-changing development has moved Nike from selling product to selling service and experience. It’s given Nike a much bigger role in people’s everyday lives and yet ultimately stays true to the brand’s mission of helping athletes everywhere to perform better. With this uniting way of measuring the fittest to the fattest, Nike has cleverly turned everyone into an athlete, all driven by the insight that you can’t improve what you can’t measure (in itself a valuable thought for all of us in marketing).
Play is a fundamental human need that helps us learn from the very beginning of our lives, so we shouldn’t be surprised at its power as a communication approach. It’s not without its pitfalls, as many brands have learned recently, but it’s a way to create entertaining and enjoyable communication with built-in participation and shared value for brands and their consumers that ultimately leads to a deeper connection. As such it’s a theme that we expect to continue in 2013 and beyond as competition for consumers’ heads, hands and hearts is fiercer than ever.
Editor’s note: Cream Global picks out three examples of brands leveraging gaming as a concept to connect well with their audiences: