How gamification can boost your loyalty program

How gamification can boost your loyalty program

More screens, brands, and experiences compete for your customer’s attention than ever. In addition, consumers are increasingly relying on technology when making their purchasing decisions. Faced with fierce competition, QSR and fast casual restaurants increasingly focus on loyalty programs as a way to generate repeat visits in their establishments.

Focusing on loyalty programs makes total sense. The Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University, showed that nearly 70% of all sales are generated by loyal customers. Additionally, aside from raising profits, loyalty programs can lower expenditures on traditional marketing schemes.

Considering that the price of customer retention is 80% lower than that of acquisition, it is important for the loyalty program to be as effective and engaging as possible. But what stands between the holy grail of customer engagement and your loyalty program?

Customer engagement is the true measure of loyalty.

As many brick and mortar businesses focus on building loyalty, they often start by emphasizing increasing enrollment in their loyalty programs as the end-goal. However, while boosting membership numbers may look good on paper,  it really does not tell the full story regarding customer loyalty. A recent survey showed that 54 percent of loyalty memberships are inactive, with most becoming inactive within the very first year.

When it comes to loyalty programs, enrollment does not equal engagement. What matters is not how many people sign up, but how engaged the customers are with the loyalty  program and your brand. The real question QSR marketing and brand managers should be asking is how to improve customer engagement in order to boost the loyalty program they already have.

How gamification can boost your loyalty program?

Gamification has long been used as a tool to engage and motivate people in various contexts, such as workplace or learning environments. Recently, brick and mortar businesses started to turn to gamification as a tool to generate repeat visits, boost customer engagement and loyalty.

Gamified experiences are a great way to engage with consumers

Gamified experiences are a fun and unintrusive way to engage with consumers that are already in your store.  Deloitte, recently conducted a comprehensive study of 4500 restaurant consumers, which highlighted the need for QSRs to incorporate the technologies that consumers already use throughout the day.  The primary find of this study, was that in order to connect with modern consumers, QSRs must adapt to consumers’ digital experiences and patterns of interaction.  Sure, you might be able to get a customer in the door by offering a great burger or pizza, but that alone is no longer enough to keep them coming back.

Generating fun interactions between consumer and the brand within a store setting, is an important step to achieving engagement and loyalty. Gamified experiences are a great way to connect with your consumers in a fun and engaging way that fits well into their prefered mode of interaction.

Gather consumer data with gamified experiences

Big Data is all the rage, because it allows businesses to examine customer trends, behaviors and patterns. Gamification can also be used to learn client preferences in relation to their favorite topping on a pizza or to learn how cooked they like their meat.

Knowing your customers’ individual needs is the best way to keep them happy. By examining consumer data, companies can truly understand their customers wants and needs in order to create successful customer loyalty and retention programs, and personalize consumer interactions and experiences in meaningful ways. As restaurants learn client preferences and personalize experiences based on customer data to suit their taste, clients will naturally be inclined to come back again and again.  

Dunkin Donuts created a fun game called “On your mark”, to gather data. The game is played, via smartphones with the goal of filling up every cup of coffee on an ever-speeding assembly line. Before players can play, they must enter their favorite Dunkin Donuts drink and enter the loyalty program. The game is engaging , allowing the player to identify with Dunkin Donut products, while providing Dunkin Donut the opportunity to learn client preference.

Fill in the waiting time gap

The waiting time gap is a wasted opportunity for engagement.  Flip wait time into fun time, by boosting your loyalty program with gamified experiences and connect the consumers to your brand in a fun and interactive way.  In short, your patrons will be using their smartphones for something, and it is your job, as a marketer, to ensure that they use it to connect with your brand. By offering a fun and interactive gamified experience you can achieve that goal.

Give your brand a boost on social media

Gamified experiences are inherently social, based on the strong psychological need for social approval and competition. Gamified experiences should be carefully linked to widely used social networks. By making badges and trophies easily shareable on social media, gamification gives your QSR more publicity. As players, enthusiastically move up the ranks in the game and win badges and prizes, they will be sure to share their victories and new found status with their social network. Friends will, no doubt, want it on the action.

Social media plays a pivotal role in building meaningful connections with customers. Paying attention to how your customers interact with your brand on social media can play an important role in building loyalty, as it helps you identify your brand’s advocates and reward loyal customers for continuous engagement with your brand.

Connect gamified experience to your existing loyalty program

Gamified experience can be directly linked to your existing loyalty program. For example, reward points collected through the game can be redeemed only by loyalty program participants.  In order to redeem the prize, consumers will need to download the loyalty app, sign up to a program or log-in into their existing account. In addition, consumers can gain extra loyalty points if they participate in the experience.

Recently, Teleflora a major US flower shop that is using social networking to push their gamification scheme, nearly doubled conversion numbers in its loyalty program. There is no question that gamification and social media are a powerful mix.   

Gamification can take your loyalty program the next level. To learn more about how gamified experiences can benefit your brick-and-mortar establishment, click here to subscribe to our blog.


Adir Zimerman

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By Daniele Zedda • 18 February


By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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