The gaming market is booming: According to GfK, the gaming industry generated sales of around 4.37 billion euros in Germany in 2018. ESports tournaments fill entire stadiums worldwide, the Candy Crush Saga leads the Google Play Store ranking of the top-selling apps, and the augmented reality game Pokémon Go led millions of users on a hunt for virtual Pokémons. Playing triggers emotions that marketers can take advantage of: Fun, ambition and happiness.

There’s a child in every one of us

The play instinct is a natural instinct in humans. Especially for children, playing is important for their mental and physical development. But anyone who believes that the play instinct is limited to children or adolescents couldn’t be more wrong. According to a study by the Association of the German Games Industry, 28 percent of computer and video gamers in Germany are 50 years and older. With a total of 9.5 million players, they represent the largest age group in Germany. The average age of gamers has been rising for years: Whereas it was 32 years in 2013, it rose to 36 years in 2018. These figures show that my grandmother is a target group that should not be underestimated, especially against the background of our ageing society. Due to their social interaction character, games can perhaps even counteract social issues such as loneliness in old age.

In addition to the classic target group of so-called heavy gamers, i.e. players who spend an above-average amount of time playing video games, there are also people who only occasionally want to play computer or video games, but the relatively high purchase costs for a gaming PC or game console often put them off. This however may change this year with the planned launch of Google’s new game streaming platform “Stadia”. According to Google, the games can be downloaded from the cloud and played on any device using a dedicated controller. Although nothing is yet known about the pricing model of the service, it can be assumed that this will create a previously untapped target group potential.

New technologies offer a wide playground for stationary retailers

According to the German Retail Association, the stationary retail sector is still struggling with declining customer numbers. One way to attract more customers to city centers and shops is to make the shopping experience more exciting and interactive through gamification. Gamification is the integration of playful elements into a non-playful context. These playful elements address human needs such as the desire for interaction, ambition, competition or reward. The aim is to motivate the players to adopt the desired behaviours, such as increased buying intention and loyalty or an increased number of customers in the store.

Some companies have already successfully implemented the gamification approach in their businesses. In the spring of 2018, the bookseller Hugendubel motivated customers to visit the branches with its “Bookbuster” campaign. They developed a mobile game in which users could test their knowledge about current books in three levels. Level 1 consisted of a virtual book cover puzzle and Level 2 required users to guess book titles represented by images. Augmented Reality was used for the third level. The participants could collect virtual birds and win books in the process. According to Hugendubel’s Marketing Director Sarah Orlandi, the campaign has led to increased visitor numbers and increased sales.

In addition to Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality is also ideal for making the shopping experience more exciting and playful. For the opening of a new IKEA store in Dallas, the furniture manufacturer has developed a Virtual Reality Experience where visitors can immerse themselves in the IKEA world. A virtual cushion throwing game enabled playful interaction with the products. In another VR experience, the participants learned in a playful way about the sustainable design process of an IKEA bamboo lamp.

Another successful gamification model comes from NIKE. In order to promote the new “Epic React” shoe, the trial fitting of the shoes in the store was combined with a three-minute motion game. Before the customers got on the treadmill, they created an avatar of themselves. This avatar was controlled by the running movement of the customers and a hand-held button for jumping. In total, there were four different worlds for the participants to explore as they playfully tried out the new Nike shoe.

As you can see from the results, there are no limits to fantasy and creativity in Gamification. However, retailers should make sure that the game elements support the shopping experience and are not just a gimmick and distract from the buying process.

Gamification supports everyday agency life

Gamification will also play an increasingly important role in the ELearning sector in the future. The online advertising industry continues to evolve, new disciplines are being added, and often new tools are emerging whose functions employees need to learn.

Anyone who has ever attended such a course knows how theoretical they can be and how quickly they forget what they have learned. If onboarding events and tool trainings were gamified in the future, knowledge could be imparted in an entertaining way. Companies can, for example, set incentives that motivate employees to further their education and thus collect points or reach the next level.

Salesforce, an international provider of enterprise cloud computing solutions, is a prime example. A special learning platform called “Trailhead” was developed for a playful introduction to their software, where learners receive points and badges as a reward for solving tasks. The competition character promotes learning and later use of tools in everyday work.

Gamification approaches are also conceivable for recruiting and innovation workshops. So, dear colleagues, be creative and let your play instinct run free!

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