In today’s world it seems there’s a card for everything—Shopping at Sainsbury’s and BP with the Nectar Card, having a Costco Clubcard, or getting free sandwiches with Subway’s Sub Club Card. The whole idea behind this interaction of brand and card is to try and gamify consumer actions and secure a repeat purchase. But what techniques are being implemented out there? Why do they work and at what cost to the brand? I will have a look through some schemes and chart their success.

How does gamification work? Essentially gamification takes a laborious task and makes it fun, just like a game. ‘Buy X and receive Y’ schemes have been around since the boom of consumerism, with very basic incentivised spending dating back to the beginnings of trading. One would expect market traders to give extra produce or deals in order to get the customer to return again. But in the modern day, where much consumerism is through big brands, competition is fierce. Setting yourself apart from the rest has never meant more.

Point Reward Cards

The ‘Nectar’ Card is one of the most popular point reward scheme cards in the UK. Launched in 2002, the Sainsbury’s reward card finds particular strength in integrating ‘food for thought’ (excuse the pun): If you have your own bags, for example, you can redeem points. They also print vouchers related to your consumer habits. And all of these rewards apply to your next purchase. Great for getting you back in store!

Punch Cards

Nando’s has recently updated its reward scheme; however their loyalty card scheme was built on the punch card stamp model, rewarding visits with stamps useable for free food. This worked well, as it provided a visual representation and was fairly achievable if you were to eat out at Nando’s once a month or so. The problem was that some people would forge stamps. But Nando’s biggest strain seemed to have come recently when they changed their scheme structure. All stamps and rewards their consumers hadn’t cashed in were strewn aside, as if they’d never spent there. Nice way to reward your customers, right?

Gamification Online

Foursquare-Check-InFoursquare is an app that allows you to check in to restaurants, theatres and other venues. When you check in to enough places like Starbucks, it credits you with title, such as “Mayor of Starbucks”.  Some companies also offer rewards based on the frequency of you ‘checking in’. This works by the customer marketing the venue they have checked into, increasing familiarity with the customers’ social followers.

Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation offer leader-boards and trophies, with many popular games being highly addictive due to the unlocking of badges, titles and other achievements. Many of the titles are fairly easy to unlock, although extremely difficult to acquire all of them—this doesn’t stop players coming back for more.

Online vs. Offline

While online gamification offers the ability to market via the consumers’ audience and offer a more engaging platform, the loyalty card schemes are more easily issued within the existing payment structure of the organization. This makes offline gamification better and more likely to result in better conversion rates for your brand. However, the same benefits could also be derived from Foursquare’s automatic check in and social media updates too.

From your experience what do you think are the best brand engagement gamification schemes out there?


AvatarMatt Payne

Matt Payne is the director of Oomph Plastic Cards. You can follow Oomph on Facebook or @madebyoomph.