Gamification for Increased Engagement

October 12th, 2022

Gamification (noun)

Gamification is the application of gaming elements and principles, such as point scoring, rules of play, competition, incentivisation, and so on, to a traditionally non-gaming activity.

Before we look at gamification’s ability to increase engagement at retail, it’s important that we first look at why consumers are so drawn to gaming in the first place – so much so that the gaming market continues to grow with a forecasted compound annual growth rate of 8.94% between 2022 and 2027 (Mordor Intelligence).

Five benefits of gaming

Five benefits of gaming (Not an exhaustive list!)


1) Gaming reduces stress. For many, gaming provides a sense of escapism and a break from our day-to-day routines that demand us to be “switched on” at all times, and where dropping the ball can come with real-life consequences. Sure, in an ideal world we would win all the games we play, but winning a game comes with much less pressure than getting important elements in our personal and professional lives right. For others, gaming can help to release pent up emotions, besides, what’s more, satisfying than exterminating a mob of zombies!?

2) Gaming boosts mood. Similarly to reducing stress, gaming boosts mood, and with lasting effect! Or so says research conducted by the University of Oxford. One observation from the study found that “Players who objectively played more in the past two weeks reported to experience higher well-being”. In the shorter-term at least, this boost in mood can be attributed to a release of dopamine in the brain that is typically experienced when playing a game.

3) Gaming is social. Traditionally, avid gamers, especially those preferring video games, have stereotypically been known to shy away from social situations, but with an increase in MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) gaming, this is no longer the case. In fact, after a busy day at school or work talking to friends and colleagues, respectively, many gamers continue their conversations with each other on their favourite gaming platforms. Not to mention boardgames – an activity that is typically played almost solely for its social aspect.

4) Gaming provides a community and a sense of belonging. Similarly, gaming can provide an opportunity for people to make new friends through the coming together of like-minded individuals. This might happen online through gaming platforms and forums, or in the physical realm through community locations such as boardgame cafes.

5) Gaming improves cognitive abilities. Almost every type of game will draw upon some type of cognitive ability, whether it is the ability to focus, strategize, recall information, and so on. Whichever it may be, playing games will inadvertently sharpen the cognitive skill upon which it relies.

Gamification at retail 

By applying gaming elements and principles to physical retail activations via touchpoints, brands can work towards providing consumers with a community-centric sanctuary promoting emotional wellbeing and personal development.

Here’s how you can integrate gaming into your physical retail strategy…

Gamification at retail 

Instore touchpoints. Incorporating gaming into your store’s shopping journey via touchpoints instore or within other physical retail activations can help your brand to communicate a narrative that resonates with your customers. The gamification of touchpoints within your retail store, shop-in-shop, pop-up or window display can also help to attract customers to your brand and its products – perhaps even those who might not otherwise interact with your brand. Furthermore, gamified touchpoint can help to create more meaningful moments for a premium customer journey that makes a lasting impression.

Benefit Cosmetics has a long history of using digital technology and AI to elevate the bricks-and-mortar experience. One of its more notable activations was the enormous interactive window display at Sephora in the Dubai Mall. Studioxag explains “As customers approach the window, advanced AI tracking technology detects their movements. Suddenly, the customer is controlling the magnetic force emitted from the giant mascara wand. With the swish of an arm, magnetic forces flash across the window towards a giant set of eyelashes, which expand and lengthen in size with every streak of magnetic energy”. Accompanying Benefit Cosmetics’ gamified window activation was an entirely interactive instore pop-up experience inspired by classic arcade-like claw machines!

A more recent, and very impressive activation which looks not only to bridge the gap between our digital and physical worlds, but also to engage younger hotel stayers, is the unique ‘Moxy Universe, Play beyond!’ AR experience that you can find at 12 of the Moxy Hotels by Marriot International in the Asia-Pacific region. This AR experience transforms the hotel into a phygital playground. To activate the gamified guest experience, guests simply need to scan a QR code to unlock the games and interactive challenges across the hotel. Moreover, guests can create digital avatars and take photographs that combine computer-generated overlays with the backdrop of the hotel to share their experience on social media.

Guerrilla Marketing.

Guerrilla Marketing. Your brand’s marketing activity is another area in which you can incorporate gaming. Introducing gaming into your marketing strategy will take it into the realm of guerrilla marketing which is popular for its ability to generate high brand awareness and engagement.

Guerrilla Marketing noun

Guerrilla Marketing is a type of marketing that uses the element of surprise or non-traditional and unconventional interactions to engage with consumers.

Reebok’s ‘Are you fast enough?’ marketing campaign challenged passers-by of the Launch Zone to run at a minimum speed of 17 km/hour – using a tracker to accurately measure the speed of passing pedestrians. Upon completing the challenge, the glass showcase opened up, inviting winners to pick their free pair of Reebok ZPump 2.0 shoes. Reebok created an experience desired by modern-day shoppers and was rewarded with enhanced brand engagement, receiving over 275 thousand views on YouTube, over 30 thousand Shares across the social media platforms and news coverage from several outlets.

A more recent guerrilla marketing street campaign from this summer was hard seltzer brand, White Claw’s playful Shoreditch billboard. Unlike other advertising billboards, White Claw transformed their billboard into an invite for passers by to cool themselves down in the London heat. Using cooling strips, heat-proof paint, and touch activated gel-centred cooling pads, alongside the outline of a person and the text “This wall will cool you”, White Claw achieved interaction from locals and tourists alike that other brands couldn’t from their non-interactive advertising. And the funky ‘icy cool waves’ mural art looked pretty cool too.

Product experience & retail concept

Product experience & retail concept. Incorporating gaming into your product experience or retail concept, whether permanent or temporary, is a really great way to attract younger audiences and the gaming community to your brand and its products. This added layer also incentivises people to purchase your products over your competitors. What’s more, the longer you can keep the game going, the longer you will retain customers who have chosen to engage with your brand and its products for this reason.

McDonalds’ Monopoly collaboration is a really good example of this. Through the initiative, the fast-food brand rewards the purchasing of food with ‘tokens’ that can be found on the product packaging. Some ‘tokens’ can be traded in for free food items, whilst others are to be collected, encouraging customers to purchase more food items from McDonalds to collect the full set and be in for a chance of winning big prizes.

Similarly to this McDonald’s Monopoly concept is a concept by Chinese convenience store, Gogo – except in this case, the activity of buying and eating Gogo’s on-the-go meals, itself, has been made into a physical gaming experience! The design of the food product packaging is inspired by retro video gaming, displaying pixelated icons for players to collect in order to ‘restore health’, as well as classic gaming typography. The creative company behind this idea explain that “convenience stores are like ‘item shops’ in games, or checkpoints between levels: they let you recalibrate yourself momentarily and keep you going”.

What’s your Gamification Strategy?

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This article is part of a four-part web series investigating a handful of ways that brands and retailers are leveraging consumers’ love for play, gaming, and make-believe as a form of entertainment and escapism to reach new customers and make a lasting impression.


Jump to a section
Part 1 – Introducing Playtail…
Part 2 – Dreamlands and Playscapes for Kids and “Kidults”
Part 3 – Gamification for Increased Engagement
Part 4 – Making an Impression in the Metaverse

Can’t wait? Request the report!