Making Marketing Fun: 5 Successful Gamification Examples

Making Marketing Fun: 5 Successful Gamification Examples

Some of the most effective marketing happens when consumers are so engaged that they don't realize they're being marketed to. That's why many successful brands have turned to gamification, or behavioral economics. It can better engage customers in fun ways, and in the process, enable brands to build loyalty and increase sales.

Gamification isn't a new tactic. Remember McDonald's Monopoly game? And there was United Airlines, which debuted the industry's first modern frequent-flyer program. Today, though, brands are using behavioral economics in more subtle ways to personalize offers and strengthen the customer loyalty loop.

Built in systematic ways, gamification is part of a marketing strategy that relies on science to motivate and influence customer behavior and engagement. Doing this allows brands to create rewarding experiences that play into their customers' competitive spirit, while delivering valuable information that enables the brand to develop 1:1 personalized offers that will translate into revenue.

There are many examples of successful gamification strategies. Consider what these five brands have accomplished.

5 Successful Gamification for Marketing Strategies

  1. My Starbucks Rewards - In its quest to become the most personalized brand in the world, Starbucks Corporation launched this reward program, which gives loyalty program members gold stars each time they pay for purchases using their mobile app. The more they buy, the more stars they rack up and the higher levels they achieve. Customers can earn them a customized gold card and other cool benefits. Not only are members earning stars for purchases, but the rewards program also guides customers into their own individual journeys to onboard more easily, increase buying frequency and learn about new products. By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to power the customer insights for gamification and personalization, Starbucks has been able to increase their marketing efficiency by 2x and speed marketing execution by 10x.

  2. Target's Wish List - This app enabled children to create interactive shopping lists during the holiday season. Playing a 3D animated game, kids visited the Target Toy Factory and could drag and drop desired toys to create a wish list that would then be sent to Santa. The Wish List's initial launch saw 75,000 downloads, with 100,000+ wish lists created. The lists included 1.7 million items, which represented a total sales potential of $92.3 million.

  3. NikeFuel - Combined with a wearable fitness device call the Fuelband, the app enables users to share fitness achievements on social media. Users can also earn points, enabling them to compete with each other. The objective is to have the Nike brand integrated into consumers' everyday life, and be associated with healthy, fit lifestyles. Within the first year of its introduction, Nike attracted 11 million Fuelband players using the app.

  4. Chipotle - The fast food giant has used games in numerous ways to engage its customers and reward them with free good in the process. About five years ago, Chipotle introduced an avocado-themed matching game called Guac Hunter, which rewarded winners with free guacamole and chips. The next year, Chipotle debuted an animated short film entitled "A Love Story." This spawned another matching game, focused on identifying real Chipotle ingredients compared to others that had artificial flavors or added colors. The game highlighted Chipotle's use of fresh ingredients and awarded winners with a "buy one, get one" free burrito promotion. These games enabled Chipotle to highlight new offerings and its competitive advantages, while driving customers to its restaurants to redeem rewards and make additional purchases in the process.

  5. M&M's Eye Spy Pretzel - Designed to raise awareness of its new pretzel-flavored candy about a decade ago, M&M's launched a simple and inexpensive, but effective, marketing campaign that centered on an eye spy game. Shared on social media, the challenge was to find the pretzel in an image of M&M's candies. In addition to providing a fun and easy way to engage with the brand, M&M's saw its social profile spike - adding 25,000 new likes to its Facebook page, as well as 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments.


Learn more on how to apply the science of gamification to the art of marketing to drive real results - from customer engagement and improved financial results - download our new white paper, "Beyond the Fun, Gamification Adds Science to Your Customer Loyalty Program."