Companies have been incorporating game design elements into non-game applications for years now in a bid to improve the customer experience and keep customers interested. Companies like Starbucks and Nike hit it big with their gamified elements which have now become a mainstay. Starbucks’ ‘MyStarbucks Reward’ and Nike’s ‘Fuelband’ programs incentivized customers to use more of their offerings and be rewarded in the process enhancing user experience. Companies around the world started picking up on these elements and incorporating them into their own. 

During the pandemic, gamification has seen its role become more important as it seeped its way into many digital applications and campaigns in an effort to connect to consumers, drive sales and KPIs and stay at the top-of-mind.


South Korean retail chain shop, “e-mart” launched the “Sunny Sale” marketing campaign that grabbed everyone’s attention and media fanfare. The company executives noticed that during lunch hours, its sales decreased drastically. To tackle this issue, the company set up “Sun-dial” statues outside its stores, which would project a shadow of a QR code exactly during 12pm to 1pm. Customers could scan the QR code from the shadow to win exciting prices. Consequently, the stores became packed during lunch hours, sales increased by 25% and membership counts increased by 58% during the month of the campaign. Retail superchain, Target launched a mobile app during the holiday seasons where kids could enjoy a virtual 3D tour of their toy factory and drag and drop toys they could find to make a wishlist for Santa. The app’s downloads soared during the season and so did Target’s sale of toys. 

During the pandemic, Coca Cola halted brand marketing initially and decided to resume with a new focus on agility and flexibility. They banked on increasing streaming content, partnering with BeApp to bring live-streamed festivals and concerts to mobile screens where more and more users were flocking. BeApp’s strategy to drive further engagement banked on gamifying the experience whereby rewards systems were introduced, and users could unlock additional features through more interactions, and accrue points. Personal care brand, Schick went as far as introducing an entire game to keep consumers entertained during the pandemic and engaging in fundraising through the revenue earned from the campaign to help barbers who were virtually out of jobs due to the lockdown. In Bangladesh, local ridesharing platform, Pathao partnered with Go-Games to introduce virtual gaming in their app to increase customer engagement during the pandemic. Top scorers received many exciting prizes through the campaign. 

Even the political arena is no stranger to gamification, with popular American satirical talk show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” launching a mobile app back in 2018 called ‘This is not a Game: The Game’ which engaged its users in fun, interactive daily challenges. The challenges were designed to educate users of important political news. Campaigns such as these had an impact on subsequent voter engagements and turnouts. 


Whilst the basic principles of gamification are derived from video games, gamification can be applied to both physical and digital marketing campaigns. While designing a gamified campaign, marketers use a basic 6D framework. The 6D framework includes 6 steps: Determine business objectives, Describe target behaviors, Design activity loops, Develop fun factors and Deploy essential tools. 

Designing activity loops are the most difficult and at the same time, the most interesting part of the gamification process. Activity loops are customer engagement activities designed to motivate customers to keep using the application, or campaign’s interactive element. But what makes an activity so engaging? Behavioral psychologist of Stanford University, Professor B. J. Fogg has developed a model that tells us how engaging activities can be designed. The model gives us three elements- motivation, ability and trigger. All these elements must be incorporated in an activity to make it engaging.

Incentives can be- emotional satisfaction, tangible or intangible rewards etc. Next, customers must be able to complete the activity. If the task is too difficult, they may get frustrated. And lastly, there has to be a trigger or cue for the customers to complete the action. These triggers are the “points” or “stars” or some form of virtual reward that promises an actual real-world benefit.

Timing is crucial- all three elements must be fired simultaneously for the activity to become engaging. If even one of them is not fired at the right time, customers will not either participate in the game or will become frustrated and leave midway. 


So, in a nutshell, gamification is a sure and tried way of generating more customer engagement. Companies around the world are using this strategy to design their marketing campaigns. Some Bangladeshi websites like- 10 Minute School, Daraz etc. have successfully implemented this strategy as well. Most of the companies design their marketing campaigns based on just intuitions, without properly developing a cause-and-effect model of their campaign. They need to study more about the psychology of customer engagement before designing marketing campaigns. A lot of research has already been done on gamification and there are many resources available on the internet which can give one a clear understanding of the topic. 

By Sk. Ezaz Ahmed

Leave a Reply