Gamification is the future of loyalty

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Loyalty programmes are driven by rewarding consumer behaviour to build up a relationship between a customer and retailer. But the traditional mechanics of collecting points to earn prizes isn’t going to cut it forever. Gamification is finding its way into all aspects of marketing and CRM is no exception.

My colleague Ruth Mortimer wrote recently about how brands are looking at gamification techniques to extend their brand content and ensure that a marketing concept need never come to a conclusion.

It followed an interesting presentation I watched at our exhibition Marketing Week Live! by Mark Sage, director of loyalty at Carlson Marketing talking about how gamification will be the next driver of loyalty programmes.

He described loyalty as a game that both consumers and retailers play, collecting and awarding points, but now the rules of the game have changed.

Now, it’s not so much the points we collect that are important, it’s the interaction between the consumer and the brand and increasingly the social visibility of these interactions is more important still.

The difficult question for retailers with established CRM programmes is how to add in gamification metrics to the existing programmes.

Because the only goal within a traditional loyalty card is the redemption of points, there is no motivation to interact on a deeper level, and it’s gradual process that can take a long time to achieve any substantial reward.

Things like Facebook ’Likes’ and social media check-ins will fuel the next generation of loyalty schemes as consumers put a higher value on social currency and immediate rewards.

Foursquare is an example of how brands use social currency to reward consumers and make them feel valued.

Checking in to a particular location a number of times unlocks badges and awards. Though intangible, they have the same emotional effect as actual real world rewards, but with the added benefit that they don’t actually cost the brand anything.

The concept is not as simple as creating a game and getting consumers to play it. Gamification techniques are currently mainly employed by media brands in the US such as Warner Brothers. In the UK the Mail’s Reward Club is a good example of a scheme that includes tiered levels of achievement through gold and silver rewards.

What retailers such as Tesco must do is understand how to mix the intangible with the tangible in its Clubcard programme by building in levels, challenges to achieve and badges to collect.

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