Human beings have been playing games for thousands of years, with the game itself evolving from rolling dice to the sophisticated imagery of video games. Marketers are capitalizing on this love of games by using game design elements in non-game contexts to engage and retain customers. This trend has become known as gamification. One Canadian company,
, recently introduced a new gamification platform which will help companies accomplish the goal of engagement, retention and loyalty building.
Pug Pharm’s Picnic is a platform which customers configure to their websites, mobile applications or networks. “You can enrich customer engagement by building games,” explained Steve Bocska, CEO of Pug Pharm. Picnic converts a visitor’s actions on the site to data that the platform inputs into the game. Bocska believes Picnic creates what he called “a fully activated customer community and culture.” It captures the visitor’s attention with games and then, in Bocska’s words, “crosses the loyalty chasm” by increasing their commitment, involvement and loyalty to the brand. After visitors feel committed, involved and loyal, what Bocska described as “a fully activated community forms,” fostering a sense of belonging and importance.
Three components of the Picnic platform help visitors cross the loyalty chasm and form a community. The G+Play feature creates a virtual item economy in the games on Picnic’s platform. Once visitors enter information into the site, they will have the opportunity to play a game. As they play, they will need to gather items based on the personal data they entered earlier. Certain items will be made scarce intentionally, so visitors have incentive to visit the site again and play the game more than once. However, users can give items as gifts to other players. Moreover, when a player finds a particular item, Facebook and Twitter post updates.
Another feature of Picnic, i-Cardz, also offers end users virtual rewards. Instead of offering visitors badges for completing certain tasks in games, users can earn branded trading cards that they can collect and arrange into sets. Marketers can hold contests in which users compete to win i-Cardz. In addition, webmasters can establish a virtual marketplace in which users can buy, sell and trade i-Cardz. Pug Pharm expects that the lure of collecting a complete set of i-Cardz will drive visitors back to the site and build loyalty to the brand.