GamificationMarketingUX designers and UI experts work hard to optimize digital offerings to maximize user retention time. The industry that has perfected this feat is undoubtedly the modern video game industry, which offers its customers immersive and thus compelling offers like no other.

It is logical that other industries are looking at the mechanics of the game makers and try to implement them to their own offerings. This endeavor is called "gamification", the aim of which is to not only gain the attention of consumers, but also their engagement. Psychological mechanisms of action behind individual game mechanics help to consciously integrate gamified elements into one's own communication. The basic intention of gamification is therefore to influence human behavior, and thus fits perfectly with marketing, which always tries to influence people's behavior in favor of a product or brand. So, gamification can be seen as a means of achieving marketing goals.

The relevance of gamification for marketing will go hand in hand with advancing digitization. Thanks to digital networking, the real environment is increasingly resembling the conditions in a video game. Every kind of behavior and interaction becomes measurable and quantifiable, and the more data is available, the more creative connections and thus interaction systems can be built. But just having data doesn't make for a good gaming experience.

If you want to understand how gamification works, you must look at the psychology of motivation in humans: in addition to the extrinsic motivation (money or possession), there is an intrinsic motivation that encourages people to do things themselves.

Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan try to take this phenomenon into account with their self-determination theory, which assumes that people have to satisfy psychological as well as physical needs. The duo identified three basic psychological needs: self-determination, competence, and social inclusion.

People satisfy their need for self-determination by creating degrees of freedom in their activities. In concrete terms, this means that a person acts with intrinsic motivation when selecting and determining the nature of their activities, the time they spend, their approach and the necessary supporters. In the context of brands and products, customization options can satisfy the need for self-determination.

Deci and Ryan understand competence as dealing effectively with the environment. Humans strive to get better at something and to develop further. An important factor is the perceptible progress. For this reason, many people find manual activities like mowing the lawn or painting fences very satisfying. The result and the effect of one's own work is immediately recognizable and not abstract as with many office jobs.

The psychological need for social inclusion describes the need to love and be loved. People strive to interact with other people. The evolutionary predisposition to social community ensured the survival of man in prehistoric times and is therefore deeply rooted. This need can also be seen as a success factor in today's social networks.

In this context, gamification is a method of systematically satisfying people psychologically and can be a tool for marketers to systematically win consumer engagement. The spectrum of possible areas of application is therefore wide open and allows marketing to expand its scope beyond pure communication.

With the help of gamification, marketing could already find starting points during product development, and thus lay the foundation for a user-centric product and service experience, which ensures customer loyalty.

By Daniela La Marca