A few years ago, when gamification was considered a cutting-edge engagement tool used only by the most adventurous of marketing directors. Today, it's on the cusp of reaching a tipping point that will shift gamification from being an occasional strategy to a must-have element of any consumer engagement program.
The context for a gamification revolution in consumer engagement starts with games. Women account for 47 percent of gamers in the U.S., and 29 percent of gamers are over the age of 50 according to a 2014 survey conducted by Big Fish Games, the world's largest producer and distributor of casual games. The survey also shows that 48 million people play games on smartphones and tablets.
Video gaming is a multibillion-dollar global business. Today's college students grew up playing online games and it has become such a cultural touchstone that Robert Morris University in Illinois is the first college in the U.S. to make video gaming a varsity sport.
As the consumer landscape changes, it's important to change the way information is presented, says Ibrahim Jabary, CEO of Gamelearn, a game-based learning product development company headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, and Madrid. He says that 58 percent of the U.S. population plays video games. Millennials comprise 30 percent of the consumer market and will make up 75 percent of it in 10 years. With this in mind, gamified tools are ideal for engaging this plugged-in audience.
Gamification is not a new concept. Airline reward programs where fliers earn points and build status were one of the first and are still the most widely used games, says Tahira Endean, CMP, an events manager for QuickMobile, a Vancouver-based mobile meeting and events applications company. These programs are used to change behaviors, develop skills, and drive innovation.
"The reason gamification is attractive to marketers is because it gets consumers to behave the way you want them to behave, see what you want them to see, and take action where you want them to take action," says Endean.
Here are three roles that gamification currently plays in various organizations' strategies to engage with consumers.