Gamifying their way into your pocket

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Defining Gamification

Gamification is one of the most widely used marketing strategies used by businesses worldwide and has been used long before the word was even coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling (Christians 2018). According to Sailer, Haense, and the team (2013), it is an innovative approach that motivates people to use game elements in a non-game context. Huotari and Hamari (2012) took into consideration the experiential nature of games and gamification and the increasing use of gamification for marketing purposes to come up with a new definition. They have defined gamification as the process of uplifting the service provided by using gameful experiences to magnify the user’s overall brand experience. In simple terms, it is the process of rewarding people for doing certain activities that motivates them to keep doing them. Some of the most common examples you’ll see in your everyday lives include likes & comments on social media, reward points on shopping apps, and goal accomplishment notifications on Fitbit. In this blog post, I shall be highlighting how brands have been making you spend more or stay loyal using gamification tactics.

Why are brands going crazy about it?

The use of gamification in marketing became popular with the service-dominant approach, which promoted customers as coproducers and the overarching importance of fostering service-dominant value-in-use rather than goods-dominant monetary competition. So, retail and restaurant industries have been banking on this new trend to enhance customer experience and brand loyalty. The main reason behind the success of this marketing tactic is the innate human desire for competition and rewards, making it perfect to increase customer engagement, participation, and brand loyalty. It can also provide valuable insights regarding consumer behavior, such as preference, budget, and more.

5 ways brands are using gamification

As the world of digital media is vast, so are the ways brands can use it to gamify their marketing goals. Each brand has its way of connecting with its consumers, marketing its brand; giving rise to varied ways to use gamification. Here, I have divided the common ways brands use gamification into five different types.

1. Social Media Games

Various Social Media Icons

One of the most common ways brands interact with their audience is via simple games on social media. Some games used include finding the hidden object in an image, quizzes, and taking screenshots. The brands then may or may not award some prizes to a few of the participants.

2. Points, Tiers, & Badges

Screenshot from my Shein Profile

Another common uses of gamification include point-based systems, such as Flybuys, Qantas Frequent Flyers, and Starbucks Rewards. Here, consumers get points on each purchase and redeem points for discounts or goodies. However, many businesses have taken the same idea up a notch with not only points but also badges that allow consumers to get extra discounts depending on the tier they are on. Shein has S0, S1, S2, and S3 tier where buyers get promoted to the next tier based on their purchases, which give them access to exclusive discounts.

3. Gaming applications

A Man Playing Game On a Phone

Taking gamification to an even greater level, some brands have come up with literal games that allow users to redeem vouchers or get prizes if they win. The spin and win vouchers on shopping apps and simple games such as screenshot & win, find hidden objects, and spot the words on social media are used by brands to entice customers to shop/ dine with them. However, KFC Japan took the marketing world by storm with its KFC Shrimp Attack game where customers had to play the game with a mechanism similar to Fruit Ninja to win coupons.

4. Building communities

Virtual Community

Some brands use gamification to build a community, which keeps them connected to the brand even when they aren’t necessarily making a purchase. Nike Run Club and Nike Fuel use challenges that users can participate in to win prizes, besides that they also use digital confetti to celebrate progress and allow them to share with friends.

5. Out of the phone


With the growth of digital technology, the ways brands interact with their consumers aren’t always required to rely on the audience’s device. Some brands use digital technologies to interact with their audience using outdoor advertisements or in-store activities. Some examples include interactive vending machines, AI technologies in-store, etc.

Drawbacks and Challenges

However, gamification in marketing comes with a variety of challenges and drawbacks. Poor execution of gamification could lead to low participation and engagement. It is also crucial that the marketing element isn’t overshadowed by the game element. Overall, it is of the utmost importance to maintain the simplicity factor that allows customers to access the products and services. Making complicated games that make it difficult for customers to access the services could be counterproductive. Success in gamification requires clear understanding of not only the consumer’s experience, but also the consumer themselves (Mccarthy et al. 2014).

Future Prospects for Gamification

To sum up, if executed properly, gamification is one of the greatest marketing tools that can boost not only sales but also brand value and loyalty. However, with more and more brands using gamification to engage with their consumers, simple games of spin and win may not be enough to entice the customers. Marketing professionals have been constantly coming up with better-gamified experiences for consumers, which foretells an even bigger market size for the gamification industry. While the gamification boom is exciting both for businesses and customers, it is essential not to lose the human touch and essence. Marketing should always be centered around the customer’s needs and demands, and marketers should keep in mind to follow trends only when it’s right for their customer base.


Christians, G 2018, Scholar Commons Scholar Commons Senior Theses Honors College The Origins and Future of Gamification The Origins and Future of Gamification, viewed 13 February 2023, <;.

Huotari, K & Hamari, J 2012, Defining Gamification -A Service Marketing Perspective.

Mccarthy, I, Kietzmann, J, Robson, K, Plangger, K & Pitt, L 2014, ‘Understanding Gamification of Consumer Experiences’, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 42, Association for Consumer Research, pp. 352–356, viewed 31 October 2021, <;.

Precedence Research 2022, Gamification Market Size US$ 96.8 Billion by 2030,, viewed 10 February 2023, <;.

Sailer, M, Hense, J, Mandl, H & Klevers, M 2013, Psychological Perspectives on Motivation through Gamification, pp. 28–37, viewed 13 February 2023, <;.

Image Reference

Ibrahim.ID (2016) Various Social Media. Wikimedia. [Accessed: 13 February 2023] CC BY-SA 4.0

Pixabay (2017) A Man Playing Game on Phone. stockvault. [Accessed: 13 February 2023] CC0 (n.d.) Virtual Community. pxhere. [Accessed: 13 February 2023] CC0

Altered Reality (n.d.) Futuristic. stocksnap. [Accessed: 13 February 2023] CC0

2 thoughts on “Gamifying their way into your pocket

  1. A great offering and absolutely needed information for all consumers. It’s no longer enough to see a product on it’s merit, in the modern market we have to “game” peoples attention. How manipulative; it panders to the curve, the lowest intellectual denominator. So we aren’t afforded an opportunity to at least work through a challenge.

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