Gamification Marketing Examples Being Used in Business

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Businesses need creative marketing strategies to spread their company message and promote their brand. Gamification has become a popular strategy to reach consumers online and through connected mobile devices. Gaming techniques—such as competition, ranking lists, scoring systems, and incentives—are used to attract customers with the overarching goal of building brand loyalty, creating connections, and giving customers a reason to keep returning to the brand and purchase products and services. The central objective of gamification as a marketing tool is to boost sales and increase profit. These customer-oriented games have benefits that propel companies closer to reaching their objectives. They aid in collecting customer data, increasing engagement, boosting the company brand and promoting repeat business. The following examples show how major corporations are successfully employing gamification marketing.

Man using smartphone

M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel

When M&M launched a pretzel-flavored version of their candy, they used gamification and social media as a marketing strategy to promote their new product. The simple and inexpensive strategy involved an eye-spy game that was published on the brand’s Facebook page. They posted a graphic consisting of many, multi-colored M&M candies and challenged their followers and consumers to find a tiny “pretzel guy” hidden among the candies. The game quickly went viral. The Eye-Spy Pretzel game received over 25,000 likes, 6,000 shares, and 10,000 comments.

My Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks applies gamification techniques through its loyalty program My Starbucks Rewards as a way to increase customer engagement and ensure repeat business. Customers who become Starbucks Rewards members receive incentives such as free food and drinks, and customers receive points or “stars” with each purchase. Customers can then redeem these stars for specific items or prizes. Other unique rewards, such as a free birthday beverage and free refills, become available as customers earn more stars. Those who reach gold status stand to reap the best rewards. In this example, Starbucks provides incentives to gives consumers a sense of achievement and reinforces the idea that if they are loyal to the company, they will be rewarded.

Chipotle Love Story Game

Chipotle launched a memory game based on their short film “A Love Story,” in which customers are supposed to match real ingredients together while avoiding the use of added colors and flavors. Players are rewarded with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for any food item. Conveniently, customers can play the game and receive rewards all on their mobile devices. The reward encourages consumers to play the game, stay engaged with the company, and purchase more, while the game itself reinforces the brand message of using healthy, real ingredients as opposed to artificial colors and flavors. This is another gaming example that provides an opportunity for customers to interact with the brand while bringing attention and buzz to the company.


The personalized fitness tracking Nike+ and Fuelband accessories allow for Nike to connect with their customers while gathering valuable information about them. The personal data they collect is useful for enhancing their targeted content marketing campaigns. Nike+ Fuelband gives users incentives for using athletic tracking devices to compete against others while running and working out. The NikeFuel app can be linked to social media, which enables users to share and compare accomplishments. Trophies and badges are awarded to those who reach milestones and achieve athletic accomplishments, which further encourages consumers to use their products and seek more rewards.

Target’s Wish List

Target employed gamification marketing that was focused on children with their Wish List app. They combined gamification with their Target Registries technology to create an interactive shopping list. Designed for the holiday season, children navigate through a 3D animated game that takes place in Target’s Toy Factory. They drag-and-drop desired toys to build their holiday wish list and then send the completed list to Santa. The game was presented as a fun way for children to create their wish lists, and it’s an easy way for parents to buy their children gifts and share gift ideas with other relatives. The execution of the app was successful with the initial launch generating approximately 75,000 downloads. Over the course of the holiday season, there were more than 100,000 wish lists made up of 1.7 million total items representing a total sales potential of $92.3 million.

Gamification marketing has taken off with the increased use of the Internet, social media, and mobile technology. Games centered on a product or service provide an opportunity for customers to interact with and get to know a brand. Companies that integrate aspects of gaming into their marketing strategies will find that simple and often inexpensive games can lead to increased profits and greater social media share of voice.

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Recommended Readings

Ohio University Blog, “Going Global: Why And How It Works”
Ohio University Blog, “Enhancing Your Business on Social Media”
Ohio University Blog, “How Your Data is Being Used”

Sources, “The Sweet Way that Gamification Helps M&M’s Boost Consumer Engagement”
Smart, “Gamification as a content marketing tactic”
Game, “3 Use Cases How Brands Leverage Gamification in Marketing”
Digital, “Nike takes gamification to the next level with NikeFuel Missions”, Rewards, “Driving Customer Engagement through an Interactive and Gamified Environment”, “Case Study: Target: Target Holiday Wish List”, “The Business Advantages of Gamification”