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Unleashing the Power of Play: Gamification Brings the Fun In-Store

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With consumers rethinking their spending and retailers actively looking to revitalise their operations to increase their store appeal and sales, gamification elements as part of loyalty programmes stand as a powerful tool to facilitate engagement and in-store experiences, while enhancing the overall shopping journey.

Unlocking sales potential

Loyalty programmes are key to fostering substantial sales growth and positive connections with consumers, both online and offline. According to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Digital Consumer Survey (fielded March to April 2023), 22% of digital consumers state that they participate in loyalty programmes to receive exclusive experiences, and 34% to have access to exclusive rewards. However, traditional point-based loyalty schemes are not always enough to secure repeat purchases; as such, adding gaming elements can help increase participation and customer retention as well as leverage goal-oriented consumer behaviour.

9% of global respondents see gamified functionalities as a key factor driving a better online shopping experience

Source: Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Digital Consumer Survey (fielded March to April 2023)

While still in the early stages of use, consumers, especially younger generations, are increasingly keen on this element.Chart showing how Gamification Functionality Makes Online Shopping Experience Better 2023

Loyalty and gamification - the perfect combination to bring consumers back to stores

In-store gamified experiences can include tasks such as treasure hunts of QR codes around the store, time-sensitive challenges to earn additional points, or collecting rewards based on value spent or product category to unlock exclusive discounts. Along with a distinct marketing strategy, these types of solutions demand a well-developed app that is easy to use and offers clear tracking of achievements and rewards. Immediate and real-time rewards are key to increase usage, as well as creating hype among consumers. Fun is in.

An example of how loyalty gamification can help bridge the gap between online and offline channels, is the trial run by Walmart in Chile in 2023 as part of its loyalty programme, Mi Club. Users would receive monthly personalised challenges based on their previous purchases, which could be fulfilled by shopping in-store or online to earn extra points, thus increasing the omnichannel appeal and enticing consumers back to the outlet.

By leveraging gamified experiences, retailers can boost the popularity of in-store reward offers, increase overall time spent in the outlet, which can help improve sales, deliver engaging experiences, and increase conversion rates.Chart showing Changes Being Explored Within Stores to Expand or Create New In-Store Experiences 2023New digital technologies expand the frontiers of in-store gamification

Gamification increasingly leverages digital tools such as AR/VR, the Internet of Things, the Metaverse, and livestreaming, among others and allows retailers to connect with consumers in novel ways in their stores to help enhance the reward offerings. By leveraging digitalisation, retailers remain connected to consumers even when they leave the outlet, making them feel part of an immersive experience and embedding playfulness in everyday life.

In 2019, Aldi, the German discounter chain, added a new element to its loyalty programme by partnering with the emoji® brand in Belgium and offering collectable figurines to its members. In its first iteration, the initiative included in-store elements, with purchases earning points to redeem figurines, and hidden in-store QR codes that leveraged the use of AR technology. In 2023, the player introduced emojis dedicated to sport and exercise, and incorporated the online game Roblox, making it a true omnichannel experience and showing how brands can create connection across different platforms, increasing brand awareness and interest from younger generations.

Looking ahead: Generative AI enters the game

The introduction of Generative AI in retailers’ processes, and its push into consumer-facing applications, is helping expand the horizons of how consumers can interact with brands. Generative AI allows the use of UX (user experience) elements such as chat bot assistants that can answer technical questions, web-based interior design tools, apparel virtual try-on options, and support retailers in highlighting the products they offer and make it easier to collect and analyse consumer data.

Amazon is one of the leading players implementing Generative AI, alongside the use of biometrics, optical engineering, and machine learning, to train Amazon One, a contactless payment method that can use the palm of consumers as validation method for payments, loyalty points redeeming, and other services that require personal authentication. This technology revolutionises the shopping journey, enhances convenience, and infuses enchantment into shoppers’ daily routines.  

In terms of gamification as part of loyalty programmes, Generative AI can help deliver hyper-personalised experiences, by decoding consumers’ browsing and purchasing history and preferences. Using predictive analytics can offer users uniquely tailored quests and challenges, which can boost engagement and generate greater data for the program, allowing the embedded AI to continue tailoring content. This, in turn, will translate into a highly loyal consumer who can help steadily increase overall spending in the store.

Chart showing Areas of Business Expected to be Impacted by Generative AI 2023

Learn more about Loyalty in our report, The Transformation of Customer Loyalty: A Pan-Industry View, to understand how select industries leverage customer loyalty to build a transactional and emotional relationship with customers.

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