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On-location Gamification 101: 6 Must Know Game Mechanics for Marketers

On-location Gamification 101: 6 Must Know Game Mechanics for Marketers

Congratulations! As a marketing manager of a quick service restaurant or a retail store, you have decided to incorporate on-location gamification into your wider marketing strategy. On-location gamification is quickly gaining popularity among consumer-oriented retail businesses, and for a good reason- it’s an excellent tool to create positive customer experiences and increase loyalty.

Once you have set your objectives and have defined the target users, it’s time to select specific gamification elements or game mechanics. Game Mechanics refer to “the components of a game, the mechanisms utilized by game designers to reward activity among customers, employees, or other users.”

To make things easier, we’ve put together a guide on the top six game mechanics to apply if your goal is to drive consumer engagement, encourage repeat visits and improve overall customer experience in your store.

Game mechanics for marketers

#1 – Challenges

Challenges are at the core of gamification. Human beings are social and interactive creatures that are always looking to challenge themselves to reach new levels of skill, beat a record or master a certain task.

Challenges are often about completion within a time limit and by keeping games short – just enough to fill the waiting time gap, QSR brands can truly engage the in-store visitors. Furthermore, challenges usually offer a specific reward in exchange for a specific action, and it is important to find the right incentives to motivate your consumers to engage with the activity.

Real life example:

The famous underwear brand Jockey recently applied a challenge by setting up a
virtual bowling alley in the store. Customers played the game on large screens using
their smartphones. Based on performance, players received redeemable coupons that they could exchange for prizes and special offers in the store.

#2 Quests & Missions

While challenges are all about specific rewards in exchange for actions, quests & missions are all about exploration and discovery. Quests usually require users to perform a prescribed set of actions, following a guided path of your design.

Real life example:

For instance, Toys ‘R’ Us recently created a gamification version of a scavenger hunt for children to play together with their parents. The goal of this on-location gamification activity was to send the visitors on a mission that required them to discover QR codes on different floors throughout the store and to scan them with the help of their smartphones. When the player met the required quota of QRs, they could redeem an online voucher.

#3 Points

An obvious one, but points are usually an important part of any gamification strategy. Players get satisfaction from watching their points rise and redeeming points for special offers, while the company can use points to measure interaction.

Real life example:

Starbucks is a veteran of gamification, they were one of the first brands to revamp the traditional customer loyalty program by including gamification elements. For every dollar spent, a Starbucks customer receives loyalty points that can be redeemed in-store for rewards like; free coffee refills, birthday rewards etc. This is, however, complimented by special promotions on days like Valentine’s Day, where customers can send a Starbucks Card eGift to one another via mobile app.

The Starbucks scheme shows a great potential of gamification to boost traditional loyalty programs for QSR and quick casual restaurants.

#4 Badges and Trophies

Badges and trophies, are very similar, albeit with important distinctions, so we placed them in the same category.

Badges are more meaningful than points as they recognize specific categories of achievements. Whether it be reaching gold status in the Starbucks loyalty program or breaking a new record in the Jockey virtual bowling game, a badge acts as a status symbol. Trophies, however, are what differentiates the good from the best and can be used lovingly to create a competitive spirit and should be awarded more sparingly.

Furthermore, considering that social media has become a part of everyday life, an ideal case scenario would entail consumers sharing their badges proudly via social media. From the perspective of the brand, social media sharing is a sure way to attract more participants in their gamification scheme looping us back into the challenge mechanism.

Real life example:

Foursquare has made great use of badges. They decided to make their “favorite location finder” app called Swarm more engaging by including new badges and stickers. When users check into different locations, they can unlock new badges and stickers and add them to their profile. Unlocking a badge becomes a motivation for Swarm users to visit new locations and spend more money– a clever way to take advantage of the human psyche!    

#5 Levels

Levels are all about motivating the user by giving them a feeling that they are moving somewhere and achieving something. For example, reaching the 500 point threshold might give the player a ‘superior’ status and reaching 1000 points would raise the player to the ‘expert’ status .

Breaking a challenge or a mission into levels is critical for on-location gamification success. Generally, people are better with short term goals, but particularly in an in-store setting, there is usually not enough time to complete a long term task. Therefore, when devising your on-location gamified activation, it is important to break the quest or a challenge down into levels and sub-quests that can be completed during the consumer’s next visit to your store. This strategy will encourage return visits and build loyalty.

#6 Leaderboards

With leaderboards players can see how they are performing against other players, which breeds a sense of competition and motivates users to win. However, be warned that inappropriate use of a leaderboard could cause alienation. For instance, instead of focusing on extremes like the top 5 players, widen the playing field a little. Try to focus on motivating the middle 60% instead.

Real life example:

Domino’s Pizza used leaderboards, by having an interactive game set up on a large screen to keep patrons busy during the wait time. By using smartphones, in-store players could compete against each other in a fun way and win prizes, like a free dessert or even a free meal. The game was designed to be challenging, entertaining and yet easy to master within the 5-8 minute wait time.

Gamification is a great tool for creating positive customer experiences, encouraging repeat visits and building loyalty. 

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Dotan Kopolovich

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