gamification for marketing

What Can Retail Marketing Learn from Live Gaming?

How can gamification – and live-gaming in particular – affect retail marketing thinking, budgets, and technologies?

Editor’s Note:  Several months ago we started giving topics such as behavioral economics and consumer psychology a bit more play in our editorial coverage because, as concepts, they underlie so much of what customer engagement is all about and how it is executed.  A subset of those concepts, gamification – and live-gaming in particular – can have powerful effects on retail marketing thinking, budgets, and technologies.

No matter where you look, retail is struggling to uphold its historic appeal to shoppers. As the world becomes more and more driven by the internet and everything digital, retail has struggled to keep up enough to stay relevant in some sectors.

It was reported that over ten thousand traditional retail stores had closed across the United States in 2017 – 2018. Up to July in 2019, 7,062 closures had been seen across large US retail chains, putting the industry on pace to see up to 12,000 stores close by the end of the year. To put this into perspective; during the Great Recession of 2008, 6,163 closures occurred in the calendar year.

Store closures are nothing new, as it’s often a part of the development of the industry; struggling brands shut up shop for successful or emerging brands take their place. However, the rate at which traditional US retailers are closing their doors is unarguably troubling.

The scene is certainly in need of some innovation, with one of the best places to examine for inspiration being the ever-ascending live gaming scene.

In the early days of online casino gaming, the obvious criticism of the digital platform was that it lacked the real-feel, authentic experience that you could get in a casino. However, the sheer convenience of the gaming meant that it could surge in popularity. Now, live gaming has come along to deliver that authentic feel and blur the lines between in-house, mobile, or online gaming.

Offering a live game via the internet automatically makes it more convenient and accessible, but to reach its current lofty heights, live gaming had to go one step further. To enable people who are completely new to form of gaming, brands started offering a way to play and read the game + guide for free. This way, even though the game company wasn’t making any money from the playtime, it was cultivating an audience.

Live casino gaming ticks both of the boxes for being very convenient and offering the best experience, but in traditional land-based retail, the only way to conquer convenience is with experience.

While the product itself was revolutionary, live gaming wouldn’t be where it is today without offering its guides and free gaming options to grow a dedicated audience and allow people to experience the new gaming hands-on without committing any hard cash.

Engagement is a huge part of making an experience great, and offering a greater experience for free will enhance the innate desire for customers to reciprocate. The instinct of reciprocity is very strong, and if someone is gifted something, such as an item or pleasant experience at zero extra charge, the instinct takes effect.

So, learning from the rise of live gaming, one of the best ways that traditional retail businesses can offer an experience greater than the convenience of online retailers, is to offer free samples and free demonstrations. Whenever a retailer is trying to showcase a new product or line, they should have a sample stand or a demo booth in which people can come along, try the product for themselves, and have aspects explained if needed.

Traditional US retailers can’t simply sit back and wait for trends to change; companies need to up their game and offer an experience that exceeds convenience to bring visitors closer to the brand, and also encourages them to continue to visit the store.

This article originally appeared in Retail Technology Innovation Hub. Photo by Alexey Savchenko on Unsplash.

  1. This is so interesting and right in line with what I’ve been seeing retailers do. Take Toys’R’Us, which filed for bankruptcy however many years ago but who is now opening a handful of experiential stores to draw a new customer base. Love the innovation! I’ve been trying to use these coronavirus shutdowns as an opportunity to re-deign my retail space (mostly through planogram software), but I’m beginning to suspect I’ll need to get more creative soon. Thanks for posting!

    1. Totally agree. This brief (hopefully) downtime is a gift for companies to revise their strategic plan, customer plan, store plan, etc. Best of luck with your efforts and please keep us posted!

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