Is Research Ready for 'Gamification'?

It's getting harder to find a large enough, representative sample for consumer research. Gamification may be the answer.

It has been interesting that, after several years of excitement around the topic of "gamification," this year more commentators have suggested that it's "game over." I certainly agree that this concept has moved through the Gartner hype-cycle, into the wonderfully named "trough of disillusionment."

However, that is the springboard for entering into the stages of pragmatic realism. My experience is that it is often once technologies or ideas reach this stage that those interested in just delivering results can begin to realize benefits, without the distraction of hype/fashion.

Even though I can see the points made in this Forbes article, I think that the evidence cited concerns a failure to revolutionize business more broadly. What has not yet been exhausted, in my view, is the potential for gamification to help with market research.

One growing issue springs to mind. I'm thinking of the challenge faced by any client-side researcher seeking a representative sample for a large, quantitative study. The issue is that participation rates are falling, unless research is fun, interesting and rewarding. Coupled with that problem is the risk that some ways that agencies use to address it risk a higher skew toward "professional" research participants.

Gaining a sufficient sample, one that matches a company's own customer base's demographic or segments, can be important for experimentation. This issue is timely for financial services companies that are seeking to experiment with behavioral economics and need sufficient participation in tests to see choices made in response to "nudges." So, there is a need to freshen up research with methods of delivery that better engage the consumer.

No doubt the full hype will not be realized for gamification. But I hope that, as the dust settles, customer insight leaders will not give up on the idea of gamification as a research execution tool. Some pioneers like Upfront Analytics are seeing positive results. Let's hope others get a chance to "play" with this.

Paul Laughlin

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Paul Laughlin

Paul Laughlin is the founder of Laughlin Consultancy, which helps companies generate sustainable value from their customer insight. This includes growing their bottom line, improving customer retention and demonstrating to regulators that they treat customers fairly.


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