Gamification: What Market Researchers need to know about it?

If you’re a researcher, and you haven’t heard about “Gamification,” then you’ve probably been living in a cave. Gamification has caught the eye of the mainstream business world in the last couple of years. Moreover, it’s been championed by thought leaders as a powerful tool for market researchers to gain better insights and understand subjects better.

Before we start talking about Gamification, lets look at some of the challenges faced by the Market Research industry as outlined in the book “How to Hire & Manage Market Research Agencies”:

  1. Unclear research objectives: This happens due to imprecise goals, leading to ambiguous research and weak data.
  2. Research subjects are not qualified or sample size required is unmet.  This leads to weak or insufficient data.
  3. Research design and questionnaires are long and poorly structured, leading to low engagement, dismal response rate, high bounce rates, inaccurate data, and disengaged participants during focus groups and interviews.

This is far from an exhaustive list. Every industry faces ongoing challenges, and market research is no different. What is important to question is if Gamification can help this industry to overcome its specific challenges? Do these challenges require the industry to completely re-invent itself or just some minor adjustments from the traditional methodology?

These are some of the critical questions that need to be answered before a new methodology is adopted by the wider industry. Contrary to what many perceive, and as I discuss in the next section, Gamification is not new. In fact, it’s an old concept that has been used by businesses to drive specific consumer actions.

Gamification is Not New

Did you happen to check-in at your local bar for the happy hours last Friday to get discounted drinks?

Great! You have just been Gamified – twice. The two distinctive actions – checking in on Foursquare and visiting the bar during happy hours were taken because you knew that when you behave like this, you will be rewarded – most likely in the form of discounted drinks.

In addition, there are a number of applications of gaming theory currently in practice. Some of the popular ones include:

  1. Frequent Flyer Points: One well-known application of gaming is in the airline industry. By rewarding travellers with perks and creating a tiered membership system – bronze, silver and gold – airlines reward a desired behavior with points that can later be exchanged for discounted/free tickets, or upgrading to Business Class. Typically, 20% of the airlines customers are part of this tiered membership model and are responsible for a consistent revenue stream.
  2. Financial Reward Points: Lately, some of the progressive banks have also started to implement a points system that incentivizes the customer to shop more by receiving points that they can retrieve for special discounts and offers. Once a customer has a significant number of points, they can use them – to shop more! What a great feedback loop.
  3. Check-ins: Due to the spread of smartphones, a more recent addition to the list of the Gamification trends is checking in. FourSquare – the company that pioneered the concept of check-ins – provides a platform for businesses to create incentives that customers can win by checking in every time they visit the store.

All the above-mentioned cases are examples of Gamification. However, they only touch on one part of Gamification like incentives, and hence could be done better, although incentives are part of Gamification, but they don’t constitute Gamification by themselves. Fundamentally, this is because these incentives were not created with game design principles in mind. There is a lot more to Gamification than incentives.

So, What is Gamification?

According to Forbes, Gamification is defined as the application of game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.

Lets define the 2 components of the idea separately:

  1. Game design thinking: This could include player psychology, game psychology, player journey, storytelling etc.
  2. Non-game applications: Includes anything except an actual game i.e. education, work, health, behavior, etc.

Humans are playful by nature. We like to compete and collaborate with each other, interact and engage with things we work with on a day-to-day basis. By including an element of fun, these run of the mill activities can be transformed into something that individuals would enjoy doing.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Gamification is a growing trend across the business world, specifically in the market research industry.
  • It still needs to be established whether Gamification is a nice to have, or can it realistically solve some of the challenges that the market research industry faces.
  • Gamification is not new – however, it is more complex and sophisticated than just incentives that have been traditionally been used as examples of Gamification.
  • Gamification is the application of game-design thinking principles to non-game applications that make them more engaging.

This all sounds great – But, as Market Researchers, do we need to care about Gamification?

In the next post, we will explore the concept of Gamification further, and also discuss the cross-section of research and Gamification.

Written By Chirag Ahuja & Bethanie Maples Krogstad.

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