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GUEST COMMENT ‘Levelling up’ retail – using gamification to increase customer engagement

We’ve all been there recently – struggling on the sixth line of Wordle and panicking at the fact that one more guess is the difference between winning and losing. That buzz of pleasure you get from knowing you have just one more chance to win is something that motivates people and makes them keep coming back for more.

Games, when done right, are captivating. They can be compelling, exciting, intriguing, and ultimately – downright fun. It makes total sense that retailers would want to capitalise on the emotions games bring out of people, and apply them to make the most out of customer retention and brand loyalty.

It’s why gamification theory and technology has been growing in popularity in recent years. In a time when shoppers feel less connected to brands than ever before, retailers are looking to game mechanics and concepts to capture attention and engagement.

In fact, games and loyalty have a lot in common – both aim to encourage specific behaviours through rewards, goals and benchmarks. On paper, that seems to point towards gamification and loyalty campaigns being natural partners.

But what benefits can you see in practice? Let’s take a closer look at just how gamification can create genuine, measurable excitement around loyalty campaigns.

1.New opportunities to engage

By gamifying your loyalty programme, you can reach your shoppers outside of your stores, increasing your reach and in turn the number of people who will encounter your campaign and your brand.

Mobile games give shoppers the opportunity to engage anywhere, anytime, and at their convenience, ultimately leading to a stronger connection being built between shopper and retailer as consumers choose how to engage with your brand on their own terms.

What’s more, introducing gamification plays into a primal element of human nature – people naturally love to compete. Retailers can capitalise on this by playing off psychological behaviours such as reward-seeking and the desire to win and to not miss out. All of this comes together to ensure that your shoppers keep playing and keep engaging with your brand.

2. Chance to win = more shopping trips

But how does this engagement translate into consumers who are more likely to actually set foot in your store? tcc undertook some research with Sight-X to find answers to this question.

We found that 79% of shoppers would play a retailer’s game for the chance to win prizes, and 66% already play games of chance, such as lottery style scratch cards, at least once a month.

tcc found that on average, 70% of redeemers go to the store within 24 hours of winning, delivering increased frequency of shopping trips. In addition, if a shopper wins a prize through a gamified loyalty campaign, they are 60% more likely to visit that retailer sooner.

This plays on the natural human tendency to feel a sense of obligation when you get something for free. You’re more likely to buy something additional from a brand that offers freebies. 52% of shoppers admitted to exactly this. They wanted to shop with a retailer if they won something for free, and approximately half of shop visits convert to additional spend in store.

This ‘chance to win’ is a strong attraction for customers and drives additional footfall into stores.

Not only that – it also incentivises greater ongoing participation in your loyalty campaigns. If a shopper wins a reward or stamps towards a collectable range via a game, then they are one step further on a quest to collect the full range.

3.Rewards driven by word of mouth

If your friend is enjoying playing a game that is attached to a loyalty campaign, and they are also winning free rewards from that game, you would hope they would recommend it to you so you could take advantage!

As a consumer you are more likely to engage with something, whether that is a restaurant, a holiday destination, or a game, if it has been recommended by a friend because there is an element of trust in that relationship.

Based on our knowledge, 30% of shoppers who engage with digital gamification come from these ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations. From a loyalty perspective, gamification not only builds campaign awareness and deepens relationships with your current customers, but it also opens doors to new ones.

4.Creating a sense of excitement

Since digital gamification is just that – digital – and is competing with everything else online to capture your attention, games need the right advertising and media strategy behind them to ensure they reach the right audiences. Well thought-out adverts can make the difference between a game that is ignored or one that truly creates a sense of excitement and inspiration that makes shoppers want to play.

An especially important audience are those people who would otherwise not visit a store or take part in a campaign in the first place. tcc found that 55% of players played a game after seeing it advertised online, making them aware of the loyalty campaign before they even went into a store. This means more people are going to be more engaged and aware of a digital loyalty campaign than one that is solely in-store.

Once that audience has seen the game first-hand in adverts, their buy-in can lead to further awareness through them sharing among friends and family, either in-game or by traditional word-of-mouth.

With the battle for shoppers’ attention spans proving to be an uphill one for retailers to win, gamification has become a powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal to win customer engagement. If you’re interested in learning more about how games can be weaved into the customer loyalty loop, get in touch. See some of tcc’s gamification retail examples and case studies here.


Jody Rodger, director of sports and entertainment campaigns at tcc

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