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Three Reasons Gamification Is Better Than Black Friday

Three Reasons Gamification Is Better Than Black Friday

Rajat Paharia


By Rajat Paharia, Founder and Chief Product Officer

Retailers invest enormous resources in their Black Friday promotions – and perhaps that’s no surprise. The holiday season is retail’s most competitive period of the year, and with more than $50 billion in sales on the line for just one weekend, conventional wisdom would argue that it’s worthwhile to pull out all the stops in order to lure customers with special offers and deep discounts.

But how loyal are Black Friday customers in the long-run? Are you really loyal to that big box store, or are you only camping outside of it because that TV you had your eye on is cheaper there than at the store across the street? Is there a better way to drive sales and increase revenue?

With all due respect to conventional wisdom, I’d argue there is, and it begins with gamification. Here’s are my top three reasons why gamification is better than Black Friday:

1. Gamification taps into intrinsic motivators.

Behavioral research tells us that all humans have the same basic intrinsic motivators, factors that inspire us to initiate an activity for its own sake, because it is interesting and satisfying in itself. The most important of these are: Autonomy (“I control”), Mastery (“I improve”), Purpose (“I make a difference”), Progress (“I achieve”) and Social Interaction (“I connect with others”).

How many intrinsic motivators are satisfied when customers participate in Black Friday sales? By my count, perhaps two, at most: “I achieve” (by crossing a gift purchase off my to-do list) and “I connect with others” (although, let’s be honest, “connecting” in crowded register lines is not always a positive experience).

By contrast, gamification taps into all five intrinsic motivators. As a result, customers begin to see their relationship with businesses (whether B2B or B2C) as meaningful, and so they become eager and willing to participate even more. Over time, both the customer experience and customer engagement improve, ultimately driving more sales.

2. Gamification is data-driven.

Simply put, gamification is a strategy that uses data to motivate action. Gamification platforms can capture the data customers generate as they interact with systems across your organization and put it to work to create engaging experiences that drive engagement, business results and competitive advantage. In other words, gamification enables you to build a 360-degree view of your customers and take advantage of opportunities to motivate them across channels and platforms.

A Black Friday strategy isn’t so data-dependent. It’s simply based on “the deal of the day” – which brings me to my third reason gamification is better than Black Friday…

3. Gamification inspires long-term behavior change.

In addition to being data-driven and based on intrinsic motivators, a well-designed gamification platform serves as the catalyst for long-term behavior change. It starts by inspiring active participation geared to specific business goals. Then, it monitors results, measures the business impacts and supports perpetual interactions and improvements that fuel even greater customer satisfaction and engagement.

Black Friday promotions are exactly the opposite. They’re the type of one-and-done deals that have been proven over and over again to motivate only short-term behavior change. Once you’ve picked up that shiny new TV, are you really going to go back to that same store for all your other needs? Or will you just follow the best deal to the next store?

So, whether your company is B2C or B2B, it’s a great time of year to take a look at the returns you’re getting from your current customer engagement strategy. Using Black Friday as a backdrop, it’s easy to see the contrast between the choices now available. If you want trivial, short-term relationships, a Black Friday approach may be all you need. But, if you’re interested in meaningful, long-term relationships that continue to add value long after the holiday season is over, gamification is a better option by far.

At Bunchball, we adhere to a simple formula: Motivation + Big Data + Gamification = True Loyalty. With recent reports that consumer interest in Black Friday may be waning, it seems more and more retailers will soon be looking for new ways to get their customers’ attention.

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