LAB51 logo

How can Brands Increase their Customer Involvement through Gaming and Gamification?

Olivier Laborde
By Dolma Memmishofer
Dolma Memmishofer

11 Min

April 14, 2023


At the core of any business strategy lies the customer experience. While once a great customer experience was considered a competitive edge, it has now become a business necessity. In today's market, businesses must strive to provide innovative experiences that distinguish them from competitors. By incorporating new technologies, brands can offer personalized and captivating experiences that span multiple touchpoints.

If you deliver a quality customer experience, you will improve customer satisfaction and leave them with a lasting memory. According to the Temkin Group consulting firm, 86% of consumers with a good customer experience are more likely to buy from the same company, compared to only 13% of shoppers with a bad experience.

Brands should aim to provide a unique and enjoyable social experience that stirs emotions. Innovations such as personalization, conversational interfaces, video, gamification, and new territories of expression such as gaming and metaverse are crucial in creating engaging experiences that turn customers into loyal consumers and brand advocates.

Gamification vs. Gaming

Gamification vs. Gaming

Gaming refers to playing electronic games, usually on a computer, console, or mobile device. Video games are a form of interactive entertainment that allows players to engage in a virtual world with specific objectives, challenges, and rewards. Gaming can be a solitary activity, played alone, or a social activity, played with others, either online or in-person. There are various types of games, such as action, adventure, sport, strategy, puzzle, and simulation games, among others. Gaming is a popular pastime enjoyed by people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds worldwide.

Gaming can be a form of entertainment, a way to socialize with friends, or a means of escaping from reality for a while. Video games can be immersive, engaging, and challenging, providing players with a sense of accomplishment and reward as they progress through the game. Gaming can also be a competitive activity, with players competing against each other in online multiplayer games or esports tournaments.

On the other side, gamification is the application of game design elements and mechanics to non-game contexts to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. It aims to make non-game activities more enjoyable and motivating by tapping into people's natural desires for achievement, competition, and recognition. Gamification has been used in a wide range of contexts, including education, healthcare, business, and marketing, among others.

For instance, gamification has been used to encourage students to learn by incorporating game-like elements into the learning process, such as points and badges for completing assignments or quizzes. In healthcare, gamification has been used to motivate people to exercise and adopt healthy habits by tracking their progress and rewarding them with points or badges. In the context of business, the goal is to boost the client interest and motivation.

Game triggers, such as points, rewards, badges, recognition, leaderboards, etc, are used to make a customer relationship more fun and engaging.

Gamification, a nugget for the customer experience

Gamification has become a popular trend in recent years, with companies using game mechanics and signals to make their products or services more engaging for customers. This technique has been widely adopted by businesses to enhance customer experience and improve brand loyalty. The gamification market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with an increasing number of companies leveraging this technique to achieve their business objectives.

According to the report "Gamification Market - Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact and Forecasts," published in 2021 by research firm Mordor Intelligence, the global gamification market was valued at $10.19 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $38.42 million by 2026.

The use of gamification is not a new concept in marketing, but the increasing penetration of mobile devices and the rise of social media have opened up new possibilities for the gamification of the customer experience. By leveraging the power of both, companies can engage with customers throughout the day and capture their attention more effectively.

Gamification can be used at different stages of the customer journey, making it an ideal tool to make the buying experience more fun for customers.

By using game-like mechanics to enhance the customer experience, businesses can achieve their objectives more effectively and differentiate themselves from the competition, whether it is generating leads, capturing and maintaining attention, increasing engagement, reinforcing brand image, strengthening loyalty, turning customers into brand ambassadors, increasing virality, or improving referencing.

KFC Japan's use of gamification with the mobile advergame Shrimp Attack is a successful example of how companies can leverage game mechanics to drive engagement and increase sales. The use of mobile technology allowed the game to be easily accessible to a large audience, making it an effective tool for promoting the new product line. The game's premise was straightforward: players had to swipe away virtual shrimp falling from a cartoon sky and were rewarded with vouchers for the restaurant's new product line. According to Gamify, the company that created the game, 22% of people who played the game redeemed their vouchers and the company had to adjust campaign timing to account for increased demand.

Gamify, KFC Japan - Shrimp Attack

In China, gamification is a key pillar of social commerce, especially on the social network WeChat through Mini Programs. In 2018, Burberry launched a Mini Program on WeChat, a popular social media platform in China, to engage with its Chinese consumers and create a personalized customer experience. The Burberry Mini Program on WeChat allows users to access exclusive content, personalized recommendations, and virtual try-on features for the brand's products. Users can also participate in various gamified activities, such as unlocking features, winning gifts, and customizing an avatar, to enhance their overall brand experience.

One of the key features of the Burberry Mini Program is the gamified social gifting function, which allows users to send virtual gifts to their friends on WeChat. The gifts can be redeemed for real-life rewards, such as in-store discounts, creating a fun and engaging way for users to interact with the brand and share their experiences with others.

As gamification continues to gain popularity in marketing, we can expect to see more companies exploring innovative ways to incorporate game elements into their campaigns. It has proven to be a powerful lever to enhance the customer experience and increase revenue. According to the TechValidate study, 30% of companies worldwide that have integrated gamification into their strategy have improved their conversion rate by more than 50%. The technique has become an essential tool for businesses looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and offer the best possible customer experience.

Will gaming succumb to social commerce?

Gaming has undergone a spectacular transformation and a rapid ascent in 50 years. In 2022, there were 3.2 billion gamers in the world, generating a revenue of 184 billion dollars. Video games owe their evolution to technological progress and innovation but also to gamers who have helped create practices that go beyond mere entertainment.

Video games are not just for playing anymore, they are becoming a medium of their own, true digital social spaces for social expression, where players have fun, meet, attend concerts, fashion shows and shop…

In April 2020, rapper Travis Scott attracted more than 12.3 million players during his first virtual concert on Fortnite. The concert was shown 4 times in different time zones for players around the world. 27.7 million people in total watched the show. The game’s publisher also launched a virtual outfit and accessories to go with the show. According to Forbes, this virtual tour earned $20 million in merchandising sales for the artist.

Brands that want to reach a new audience in an efficient way have a new space for expression and seduction. While video game advertising has been around for a while, brands are now offering creative solutions to promote a product or service and connect with gamer communities without annoying them. Gaming could be the new Eldorado for brands: Balenciaga comes to Fortnite, Louis Vuitton to League of Legends, Gucci to Roblox, Lacoste to Minecraft, Valentino to Animal Crossing…

Travis Scott_Fortnite
Photo from

Brands can adopt different strategies to invest in video games and seduce the gamer community: In-Game Advertising, Advergame, Sponsorship and Productising.

  • In-Game Advertising is the integration of advertising within a video game. It can take the form of a banner, a video spot, a product placement, etc.
  • Advergame is a branded game designed by the company to promote its own brand image. These games are available directly on the brand's website or through an app.
  • Sponsoring: E-sports and video streaming offer new opportunities for brands to introduce new collaborations, innovative activations and stunning collections through the sponsorship format.
  • Productising is to convey the brand's message through the product itself.
  • Influence marketing through an influencer that promotes, showcases and recommends brand products in games or streaming.

The in-game advertising goes further than the banner around the soccer fields of the video game FIFA. It is no longer a matter of simply integrating an ad into a game but of appropriating its universe and sometimes even becoming a player. The brand is an integral part of the game with a dedicated and exclusive map, virtual stores, and virtual products and services. This means understanding the codes of the game and the uses of players to become a player itself.

For instance, Gucci has unveiled a brand-new experience, “Gucci Garden,” within the Roblox video game for the Gucci Archetype exhibition from 17th to 31st of May 2021.

A virtual Gucci Garden space was open to all on the video game for two weeks. The day after its release, the virtual exhibition generated more than one million visits. During the event, visitors could purchase virtual objects inspired by the House of Gucci's collections. These items were available in the Roblox catalog and changed daily depending on the theme of the room visited. For example, there were Gucci sunglasses, handbags, hats and shoes.

On the advergame side, Ralph Lauren has offered a series of digital experiences for Christmas 2020: an augmented reality experience, a virtual reality store and a game "The Holiday Run". Ralph Lauren's iconic mascot "The Polo Bear" was at the center of the game, racing to Ralph Lauren storefronts around the world to collect gifts and discover new products. The game, available on the brand's website and on Facebook Messenger, was "shoppable," meaning that the products in the game could be purchased.

Customer experience has become a critical factor in the success of any business. A quality experience can improve brand image, attract new prospects, create new business opportunities, and build loyalty. To offer the best possible customer experience, companies must constantly innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition. Gamification of the customer experience has emerged as an innovative technique that can help businesses achieve these objectives.

The gamification technique involves the integration of game mechanics and signals into non-game applications, making them more engaging and fun for customers. These mechanisms can be anything from a score, a ranking, a quiz, or other game-like elements that make the experience more exciting for the customer. By integrating gamification into their customer experience, businesses can improve customer engagement, strengthen brand loyalty, and turn customers into brand ambassadors.

On its side, the gaming industry has become, over the years of technological developments and a growing community, a more profitable industry than movies and music. E-sports and video streaming on platforms such as Twitch are contributing to the growth of the industry. Brands need to keep a close eye on this change and see gaming as a new Eldorado.

Some are starting to express themselves on these platforms. Wendy’s and the NFL are marketing on Fortnite, Mastercard on League of Legends, Walmart on Roblox, Burberry on Minecraft, and Marc Jacobs on Animal Crossing. These collaborations offer huge opportunities to brands: promote collections, sell virtual accessories in the virtual stores of the platforms or a hoodie IRL (In Real Life) in a physical store and engage new communities.

Furthermore, brands will need to be wise. To succeed in the gaming space, they need to be authentic and creative, because players will call out brands that get it wrong. You can't advertise in a community like Fortnite without authority, especially if you are a non-endemic brand. And, there is not one, but many gamer communities.

Good luck!