7 Reasons Gamification and Loyalty Programs Belong Together

7 Reasons Gamification and Loyalty Programs Belong Together

Tracy Gattis 4 min
  1. Human beings are a competitive bunch. According to Psychology Today, competition is woven into every aspect of our world. From economics, politics and foreign relations to love and, of course, sports. In fact, some scholars argue it’s a biological trait that evolved out of our need for survival.


And, let’s face it, competition can be fun! Which is why it makes perfect sense to combine gamification and loyalty programs. Airline loyalty programs were among the first to use gamification to improve member experiences. Today more and more brands are jumping on the bandwagon.

What is gamification and why do it?

Gamification involves applying game design elements and principles to your loyalty program to create engaging, more immersive experiences that motivate consumers to act. When done right, gamification can effectively build loyalty and drive growth.  


Gamification is NOT a marketing tactic

Rather than limiting gamification to simply be a marketing tactic, your gamification strategy, including gamification rewards, should be an integrated element of your brand and customer experience. In fact, according to Gartner, new developments enable gamification strategies that lead customers further down the customer journey.


Gartner advises that gamification can be particularly useful for consumer brands to help customers in the product “evaluate” and “select” steps in the buying cycle, which ultimately lead to a confident purchase decision.


7 ways gamification adds value to your loyalty program

  1. Boosts engagement—Tapping into our competitive spirits using challenges and leaderboards motivates customers to compete against others, improve their own performance and reach new levels—all increasing engagement. And customers who interact with your brand, in addition to those that regularly transact, will spend over 250% more than those customers who just transact.


  2. Drives growth—Giving members points, badges and gamification rewards for participating in specific games and activities can boost interaction frequency and help them get closer to being able to redeem these for purchases.


  3. Provides customer data, feedback and insights—Adding surveys and quizzes helps you collect valuable customer data about preferences, lifestyle and more that can be used for personalizing communications, offers and rewards.


  4. Reinforces desired behaviorsIncentivizing members to take specific actions or reach the next level to unlock new benefits helps encourage recurring behaviors that turn making frequent interactions with your brand into a habit. Annex Cloud has clients that incentivize not just one action, but a series of actions that may or may not include a transaction. For example, rate your last purchase, share a positive experience using this hashtag and make another purchase.  


  5. Creates emotional bonds—Recognizing and rewarding members with badges for achieving milestones as well as allowing them to personalize their profiles gives them a sense of accomplishment and ownership while strengthening their attachment to your brand.


  6. Makes members feel special—Limiting access to certain rewards or benefits to members who participate in your game activities creates a sense of exclusivity and makes them feel special.


  7. Creates a sense of community—Including the ability to share achievements or collaborate with other customers on social media fosters interaction that helps members feel more connected to your brand and your customers.

Loyalty gamification examples

Gamification and loyalty programs fit really nicely together. Which is why it’s no surprise that more and more brands are adopting gamification in their loyalty programs to engage and reward members with experiences, gifts and coupons. Here are some real-life loyalty gamification examples to serve as inspiration for ways you might be able to add gamification rewards to your loyalty strategy.

Victoria’s Secret

Viktoria’s Secret created an app for its customer loyalty program, PINK Nation. In exchange for sharing data and signing up for a contest called ‘Fashion Show Sweeps’, members get the opportunity to win a trip to the company’s fashion show. They can earn additional points by playing daily trivia games and sharing the promotion on Facebook.  


Domino’s used a game to engage mobile customers with its brand while educating them about the company’s ordering capabilities. The pizza brand expanded its Piece of the Pie Rewards program to include points for orders placed anywhere. The brand then launched a mobile game that let loyalty customers win points to redeem for free food. The ‘Piece of the Pie Pursuit’ mobile game put players in the center of Domino’s TV commercial which highlighted how people can order Domino’s via phone, online or in store. Each section of the game featured pizza-themed challenges, such as guiding a pizza cutter car along a virtual track in a race against the clock and using a sauce spoon as a catapult. Players who beat all six levels in the game received 10 Piece of the Pie Rewards bonus points toward their next qualifying order. Customers who reached 60 points could redeem them online for a free medium two-topping pizza.

Save Mart

This grocer recently launched an 11-week Monopoly program. In the Monopoly Kick Off the Savings collect-and-win game, customers receive at least one Monopoly ticket each time they shop—and can earn bonus tickets by purchasing from thousands of participating items. The omnichannel game lets shoppers play online by entering a game code marked on select Monopoly game tickets. According to Mark Van Buskirk, SVP of merchandising and marketing for Save Mart, this promotion is truly immersive and unlike anything the company has ever done before. “The entire store gets to participate in this. If you walk in the store, you will clearly know something is different and there’s something special happening,” Van Buskirk explained. “The Monopoly tickets are down virtually every aisle in the store. It encompasses the entire group of products that could be on a customer’s list.” Save Mart enlisted CPGs to participate. And the brand launched a separate, dedicated game developed specifically for store associates, with one team member due to win $20,000.

Get your game face on

Not sure of your next steps around gamification and loyalty programs? 

The first step to success is having the right perspective. Rather than looking to simply gamify your customer’s experience, look at gamification as a way to make your customer’s experience more engaging, compelling and meaningful. Your goal isn’t to create a gamification strategy, it’s to gamify your existing business strategy.

Read Barry Kirk’s 5 Steps to Effective Gamification Design

Read Barry Kirk’s 5 Steps to Effective Gamification Design to get a clear understanding of the difference between game dynamics and game mechanics, and which should come first. You’ll also get a 5-step design framework to help ensure you cover all the bases and create a winning gamification strategy that works.

Tracy Gattis 4 min

7 Reasons Gamification and Loyalty Programs Belong Together

Read this article to understand how gamification and loyalty games can work together to expand your value proposition and elevate your customer experience.

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