The rise of gamification marketing in India

Nehal Shukla |

Authored by Bhavesh Talreja, Founder & CEO, Globale Media

With the widespread adoption of digital technologies, people spend more time online and engage with various digital platforms. This has led to markets figuring out new interactive and entertaining ways to capture the attention of users. One such way is Gamification.

Gamification marketing is a strategy that involves integrating game-like elements, mechanics, and dynamics into marketing campaigns and experiences. In simple words, it is the use of game elements in non-game activities or making boring things more fun. It utilizes elements of gameplay to engage and motivate consumers, encouraging them to participate, interact with a brand, and take desired actions.

The term “gamification” was coined by British computer programmer Nick Pelling, but it first gained widespread usage in 2010. Although the trend may have become commonplace in marketing circles in recent times, the concept of gamification and its influence on human behavior has always been there.

We all remember how legos and puzzles played an instrumental role in fuelling curiosity and developing cognitive skills. Or how Monopoly gave a simplistic understanding of capitalism.

So, the original concept of using games for encouraging participation and learning is not unusual.

Gamification taps into the fundamental principles of human psychology and motivation. It leverages elements such as rewards, challenges, achievements, and competition, which are known to drive engagement and encourage desired behaviors.

Gamification marketing aims to enhance user engagement, create memorable experiences, and drive specific behaviors or outcomes. By tapping into people's natural inclination for competition, achievement, and rewards, gamification marketing can capture attention, increase participation, and foster a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.

According to shopping preference surveys, 70% of shoppers want gaming elements in online shopping, and 36% would like gaming elements while shopping in-store.

The global gamification market size was estimated at USD 10.5 billion in 2021 and it is expected to reach around USD 96.8 billion by 2030.

Some common elements and techniques used in gamification marketing are:

? Points, Badges, and Leaderboards: Users earn points or badges for completing certain tasks, reaching milestones, or demonstrating desired behaviors. Leaderboards display rankings based on user performance, creating a sense of competition and motivation. This is a great way to encourage users to actively participate and spend more time with the brand.

? Challenges, Quests, Rewards: Users are presented with specific challenges or quests that require them to complete certain actions or achieve specific goals. This element adds a sense of excitement, progression, and accomplishment. Users receive rewards, incentives, or prizes for their participation or successful completion of tasks. These can include discounts, exclusive content, virtual goods, or tangible rewards.

A great example is the Starbucks Rewards app, which gives customers the ability to earn “stars” for every purchase which can be redeemed for drinks or food. In the star-based Rewards app, customers are encouraged to follow through the entire process, right from scanning their member barcode to adding funds and paying with their digital Starbucks Card. According to QSR Magazine, this membership program accounted for 52% of all US store sales in 2021.

? Progression and Unlockable Content: Users progress through levels or stages, unlocking new content, features, or experiences as they advance. This creates a sense of achievement, curiosity, and motivation to continue engaging with the brand.

Gamification marketing often incorporates social elements, such as allowing users to share their progress and achievements, or invite friends to participate. This not only fosters social interaction and competition but also exponentially increases brand visibility through word-of-mouth publicity. Real-time feedback and progress indicators provide users with immediate feedback on their actions, motivating them to continue or improve their performance.

Gamification marketing can be implemented across various channels and platforms, including websites, mobile apps, social media campaigns, events, and loyalty programs. It is used by businesses to enhance customer engagement, drive brand loyalty, increase sales, promote product adoption, and gather valuable data insights.

In India, an essential avenue for gamification is fantasy sports. With an 18-crore user base, almost thrice the size of North America, India is already the world's largest and fastest-growing fantasy sports market and gamification will be the icing on the cake.

With gamification, even traditional card games like online rummy which seem mundane, can become viral sensations.

But unlike the rewards system, players can compete for real money or prizes, thereby making it a profession. Online rummy is the hottest pick in the ecosystem, with just the top four companies making a combined revenue of ?4000 crores. In 2019, Online rummy accounted for 335 million USD in India's online gaming market and is estimated to reach 1.4 billion USD by 2024.

Many international brands have already tried out different types of gamification marketing.

1. Elon Musk’s Tesla partnered with Tencent during the launch of Model 3 and Model X in China. The two companies entered into a partnership for Tesla cars to be included in PUBG, which is rebranded as ‘Game of Peace’ in China. This marketing campaign allowed players of the game to actually drive the new special edition Tesla electric vehicles within matches. This type of gamification marketing is also known as Brandification, which is as simple as advertising real-world products within video game spaces.

2. In 2010, when M&M’s launched the pretzel-flavored version of the candy, they incorporated an eye spy game into their marketing campaign, where users had to find? a single pretzel hidden in the sea of M&M's. This simple gamification strategy garnered 25,000 new likes on the brand’s Facebook page, in addition to 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments.

Thus, by leveraging the principles of gamification, brands can create immersive and enjoyable experiences that resonate with their target audience, resulting in increased brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business growth.

India is a land of games. Many games, including Chess, Polo, Snakes and ladders, have been born in India and are recognized globally. So, it should come as no surprise that India is one of the leading countries when it comes to gamification. Plus, with the Indian gaming industry valued at $2.6 billion in 2022 and expected to grow four-fold by 2027, the rise of gamification marketing will also be unstoppable. In India, there are avenues awaiting implementation of gamification such as the edtech market. Levels, points, badges, awards, quick feedback, time limitations, challenges, contests, avatars, leaderboards, and rankings can completely change the way people learn.

After all, it's not always about competing to win, but sharing how you won.