Loyalty Programs, Meet Gamification
There’s a rift between brands and consumers when it comes to loyalty programs that game designers could certainly take care of.
I belong to a number of loyalty programs. In my wallet alone I have rewards cards from EB Games, Cineplex Odeon, Air Miles, Loblaws, and HMV. That’s not even counting the number of cards that aren’t in my wallet as well as digital-only loyalty programs.
It’s well known that Canadians are way into their loyalty programs. In fact, loyalty membership grew from 9.8 memberships in 2014 to 11.3 in 2016. With so many loyalty programs in Canadian pockets, you would assume that consumers are feeling the love, right? Wrong.
While the number of membership have grown, the number of consumers active in collecting and redeeming points fell from 7.9 to 7.3. It seems as if many brands have jumped on to the loyalty program bandwagon without making it a priority.
I can think of a couple of brands off the top of my head with which I use my card every time I shop there and have yet to be offered anything of value. (I’m looking at you Plum points!)
While the desire for loyalty programs obviously exists, brands need to do a better job of actually personalizing these programs. Why spend so much time and money developing a loyalty program if you’re not even going to be loyal to the program itself?
Clearly, gamification and design experts could be of high value in the loyalty program market. There is an amazing opportunity for brands to being using game mechanics to create a very addictive loyalty programs outside of simple points, levels and badges.
While the core problem exists with brands simply committing to their programs, no doubt that most of these programs have become rather uninteresting. Consumers may have simply become numb to the old buy-and-swipe loyalty game. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the experience?
The game facilitates the experience. It’s something so important to brands that they just can’t ignore.
80% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with brands, and 66% said loyalty programs are most likely to make them recommend a brand to someone they know.
Are those numbers you would ignore?
It might just be time for a loyalty program that completely changes the landscape, something I know game designers and gamification experts can get their head around.
One pain point that I found in the report that I’ve been citing is this: one out of two consumers liked the idea of personalization in a loyalty program, but only 12% said they were getting value from the degree of personalization brand are offering today.
It got me thinking about the games that I’ve played that have created personal and addictive experiences – mechanics that had me fully invest in what I was doing.
Whenever I play any sort of RPG such as Skyrim or World of Warcraft, you get to choose exactly how your character will look. There certainly something personal about creating an avatar that represents something you wish you were. That is, something powerful with the ability to save the world.
Then there are simpler games that created loyalty from a simple concept. Games like Neopets or old school virtual pets such as Tamagotchi. Games such as Neopets tapped into our paternal instincts and made us loyalty to taking care of our cartoon characters.
A loyalty program in which shopping with the brand created rewards not just for you, but for your powerful avatar. A loyalty program in which shopping with the brand meant supplies to taking care of your virtual pet.
Of course, these may be a bit complex for what brands are looking for. But it could be just the thing that consumers are looking for.
All I know is that if you’re a game designer or gamification expert, it may be time to start designing some loyalty programs.