By Evencia Leite
Esteemed athlete and coach, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is.”
Now what if employers internalized that statement, and implemented a similar philosophy to maximize the customer experience in their establishments? The idea may be closer to reality than you think.
Enter “gamification”—the concept that’s been eating up headlines with a strategy known for its effectiveness in engaging consumers in countless capacities across a variety of industries, one being market research, which is the focus of this piece.
Gamification has also been used specifically to incentivize employees as a method of improving the customer experience. Earlier this year, Walmart announced plans to introduce gamification to increase employee engagement. With this approach, the company hopes to engage with staff and foster a fun, yet productive work environment that enhances the customer experience and ultimately achieves the ever-present goal of driving customer loyalty.
As a means for conducting market research, the gamification approach utilizes an inherently competitive strategy to uncover valuable consumer insights including preferences, perceptions and even customer experiences. Gamification employs a method of learning and engagement that uses games to tap into people’s natural desire for competition, achievement, status and rewards. This article from Carbonview speculates that when gamification is implemented into the survey experience, it “gives a more enjoyable experience, richer data, and more thoughtful answers.” While the use of this approach is in its infancy and controversy will undoubtedly follow, we’ve taken a 20,000 foot view of how we’re applying it here at TrendSource.
Marrying gamification and market research: There’s an app for that
Within the fun, friendly, and competitive walls at TrendSource, we take gamification pretty seriously, realizing the implications it has for rapidly performing market research to quickly collect consumer data. In fact, we actually have an app that’s fully devoted to it. As a market research company, it’s important for us to constantly be gathering data from consumers about what is important and relevant to companies that operate in a variety of industries. And so, we created wINput, the consumer survey app that encourages users to engage in both location-based surveys and “fun surveys” in exchange for the opportunity to win various gift cards, or the monthly grand prize which is generally a high-end electronics device.
The premise of wINput is simple: Take surveys, win prizes. By providing these prize incentives, we are able to attract a large user group and subsequently gather large amounts of useful data. It’s a win-win situation, literally.
And…how has it been going?
Since the app launched last year, wINput has developed into an indispensable tool for gathering relevant consumer insights data from real customers in a timely manner. From industry-specific data to various seasonal or themed questionnaires (i.e. Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Easter, NCAA March Madness Tournament, Mother’s Day, etc.), wINput has proven to be an engaging and viable instrument for quickly surveying the general public, inspired completely by the tangible and intangible incentives that gamification provides.
Pros and Cons
Pros: While the clear benefit of this kind of tool for market researchers is the ability to quickly gather seasonal and more basic insights, wINput takes it a step further with “Location Surveys”, where users engage in a shopping experience and make an actual transaction at a retailer or restaurant for example. This serves as a form of satisfaction surveying for gathering high level customer experience insights, and it’s what makes wINput particularly powerful by providing complementary data points for deeper analysis and insights.
Cons: Time out – how do we keep gamers honest during these location visits, you ask? A major drawback to using gamification in a market research capacity like this is the unfortunate but inevitable occurrence of users trying to “work/game the system” – or cheat, basically – so we’ve addressed this by implementing a system of checks and balances, including the requirement to take a picture of the receipt at the conclusion of the shopping experience in order to receive credit for a location survey. This is obviously very important for preserving the integrity of the data delivered.
Proceed with Caution: Use Different Research Tools Where They Are Most Effective
wINput has continuously evolved since its inception, taking user feedback into account to enhance capabilities and encourage further engagement (we’re currently working on the development of wINput 2.0).
Market research has traditionally involved a relatively lengthy process that generally requires a high level of expertise in things like questionnaire design and execution, but gamification presents the unique ability to collect less “risky” data quickly and efficiently. However – DISCLAIMER – there is no real substitute for conventional market research! Enough cannot be said about the value and dependability of market research tactics like in-store evaluations (mystery shopping), customer intercepts, focus groups, etc., and when used in tandem with clearly defined objectives, these tactics tell a complete story that is otherwise lost (see our QUEST approach).
While the emergence of gamification is certainly an exciting prospect for market researchers and consumer insights professionals, it is not the end all be all, so proceed with caution!