How brands can capitalise on the growth of gaming

See how you can capitalise on the public’s growing passion for gaming to create great experiences and grow customer engagament.

How brands can capitalise on the growth of gaming

Posted on 06-10-2018

Are you into gaming? If you’re not, then maybe your kids are. A good proportion of your colleagues will be, that’s for sure. Statistically, you’re never more than six feet away from a gamer.

Ok, I may have invented that last point. But it’s probably not that far from the truth. This year, the global gaming industry’s value will shoot past the $115bn mark, up from $108.9bn in 2017.

It’s not just consoles and PCs, either. Now that our phones are effectively gaming devices, mobile games account for nearly half of that market. Globally, over 80% of App Store and Google Play Store downloads are games.

Gone are the days, too, when players were mostly pubescent boys locked in their rooms playing Grand Theft Auto. The average female gamer in the US is 37.

In simple terms, this tells us one thing. Joe and Josephine Public love to play games – anywhere and everywhere. They love to be challenged, and relish that beautiful little hit of dopamine when they collect a coin, complete a level or vanquish an opponent.

Many brands are already entering these mystical worlds. In-game ads, tie-ups such as KFC’s inclusion in WWE 2K18 and gaming influencer partnerships are on the rise.

But there are other less obvious, and more cost-effective, ways that you can extract commercial value from tapping into the gamer mindset.

Compelling customers to take a desired action

How much information is on your LinkedIn profile? If there’s more that you could add, the platform shows a progress bar that assigns you a rating such as Beginner or Intermediate depending how far along it you are. It plays to that competitive itch that gaming scratches, egging you on to reach the coveted All-Star status.

This is a classic gamification tactic. Contrary to what many think, gamification isn’t the creation of actual games, but “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”.

Essentially, this means adding fun, motivating and rewarding experiences to the tasks that you want your audience to carry out. For LinkedIn, this means gamifying everything from profile views to skills and endorsements.

Brands harness these principles for a myriad of different purposes. Nike gets people more active. Google keeps its Maps product up to date with accurate information. Insurance company Aviva makes its customers become better drivers.

Whatever your task may be, if people aren’t currently motivated to complete, it’s definitely worth looking at how it could be gamified.

Building customer loyalty

Is brand loyalty on the decline? While the answer is a complicated one, a number of organisations, such as Salmon and Thanx, published studies last year that indicted it is waning.

There are many businesses bucking the trend, though, and gamification is playing an integral role. Take online retailer ASOS. Their A-List loyalty scheme sees members earn points for making purchases. As their tally grows, they ‘unlock’ different levels which entitle them to an increasing number of rewards.

It’s an initiative that is propelling the business from strength to strength.

Another thriving online business is the Chinese retail site Alibaba. Its international online marketplace, AliExpress, takes gamification to a whole new level in its mobile app.

It’s all built around earning ‘coins’, which users exchange for coupons or discounts on purchases. These coins are allocated for completing a multitude of tasks, ranging from leaving comments to following other users. New tasks are constantly added, and collected coins can even be multipled by playing mini- games within the app.

Every aspect of the experience is designed to keep customers coming back, earning more coins and spending more money.

Increasing engagement, awareness and sales

We’ve discussed gamification, but actual games can also be highly powerful tools for brands to achieve a range of objectives. There are two reasons why this is true right now. Firstly, as mentioned before, the vast majority of us carry around a powerful, high-resolution, permanently-connected gaming console wherever we go.

Secondly, we are constantly bombarded with content that we have little to no interest in engaging with. Game-based content appeals to the gamer in us all, so it naturally stands out.

However, it’s no use simply building a Mario Kart rip-off and chucking it out there. The gameplay and incentives must appeal to your target audience, and the content and flow of the game should be built around the objective you’re looking to achieve.

This summer, luxury scent specialists Jo Malone created an online game in the style of an arcade-style grabber machine. It sat on the homepage of their US site and offered users three chances to ‘grab’ a prize – ranging from free personal engraving to actual products.

The straightforward gameplay and simple, slick design was perfect for their target audience of affluent females. And their objective was clearly driving e-commerce sales, as users had to make a regular purchase to claim their prize.

Elsewhere, recent comScore research found that mums spend considerably more time than non-mums accessing games and social media on their phones.

Baby snack brand Kiddylicious used this knowledge to boost awareness of new wafer range by creating a Candy Crush-style game for mums to play on the brand’s Facebook page. It was a huge success, helping them to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing baby food brands last year.

To sum up, I’d like to cite a wonderful podcast from the forward-thinkers at BBH Labs. Called ‘Entertain or Die’, it put forward the notion that brands must look to entertain consumers who are becoming increasingly wary (and weary) of advertising in all its forms.

Entertainment comes in many forms. But in terms of growth, it’s clear that gaming is the medium in the ascendancy at the moment. Now it’s time for you to go out there and capitalise on it.

Topics: Creative Cloud, Insights Inspiration, Creativity, CMO by Adobe