How Gamification Influences Customer Behaviour

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Across your life, almost all actions taken are psychologically motivated on some level, as we are all emotional beings that have emotional associations with all that we do and do not engage with. Marketing is a prime example, as without the possibility to emotionally reach customers, what other way could a company convince someone that they need to use their product?

Trying to convince a bunch of customers to take a chance on your product is a task that requires you to first understand what it is that makes your customers tick. While this may sound like a large undertaking, the widely adopted use of smartphones being incorporated in to every aspect of user’s lives has lead to customer devices such as tablets and phones being regarded as an external brain. 

When we can tap into what people search, like and dislike it becomes almost a blueprint of what makes that person who they are. When Marketing agencies can get an understanding of who they’re marketing towards, it becomes a lot easier to reach them in a way they hope will influence change.

There are at least five psychological principles that agencies need to tap into in order to change buyer behaviour, gamification marketing, when done properly, is a stream capable of hitting all five psychological principles simultaneously.

In this article, we are going to discuss how gamification influences customer behaviour.

Influencing customer behaviour. It’s a phrase that will always make brands sit up and pay attention. Getting customers to make the decisions you want them to make is, quite simply, the holy grail of the customer journey.

The term gamification can mislead some into thinking that it is fixed around game usage, however, it is highly focused on the measurement, behaviours, identification, and conversions of users. Gamification can bring in a positive change in your customer’s behaviour, and it can help them to develop a positive brand association with your company. This is because we all have feelings, ambitions, insecurities, and reasons for whether or not we want to do certain things.

Gamification elements are widely spread across business, marketing and educational contexts. This goes well beyond competitive & scoring elements for each respective industry to being more so structures in place for behavioural funnelling & performance optimisation from users.

Three Elements of Motivation

Brian Burke, with his employment at the global research and advisory firm, Gartner, Inc. Had accumulated a wealth of data around the concept of Gamification. So much so that he penned a book that gives an easy to read comprehension of the ins and outs of gamification.

Within his book Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary thingsBurke addresses Gamification’s success being rooted in three motivational elements. These motivators avoid extrinsic values such as monetary rewards but rather tap into intrinsic values, such as social and self-esteem-building rewards.

1. Autonomy

People can choose whether they want to opt in or not and then make their own choices as they proceed through the game.

2. Mastery

As players master the game, they receive constant positive feedback, motivating them to try even harder. This moves the player past a traditional evidence-based rewards program and into the realm of the emotional checkmate.

3. Purpose

Unlike typical games, gamification has an overriding purpose. “Gamification engages players on an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them.” writes Burke.

When you look through the lens of these 3 principles across business, marketing & education, you begin to see beyond whatever gimmicky examples come to mind and truly understand how gamification when implemented properly, is a vessel for enhancing practices that were either lacking or non-existent.

Five Psychological Principles for Influencing Customer Behaviour

Positive Emotion

This point tackles the human desire to be intellectually stimulated and creative, through the accomplishment of a task. When people reach achievements whether they’re big or small, it creates satisfaction and joy within that person which can be a catalyst for doing and achieving more.

In the context of Gamification Marketing, when customers play a game and earn a reward for their success. The positive emotions that are associated are directly linked to the brand in question.


It is important in our lives to be able to find activities that need our full engagement. Engagement with the activities in our lives is important for us to learn, grow and nurture our personal happiness.

We all need something in our lives that entirely absorbs us into the present moment, creating a ‘flow’ of blissful immersion into the task or activity. If you can create an immersive experience in a game campaign, whether that be through a desirable reward, an enjoyable user experience or a competitive environment, this type of ‘flow’ of engagement is important to stretch our intelligence, skills, and emotional capabilities.


Relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspects of life. Humans are social animals that thrive on connection, so when a Gamification campaign taps into this through elements such as leaderboards or social media shares that permit individuals to compare accomplishments and engage in friendly competition, the individual has a stream in which they can feel a sense of fulfilment in the area of connection.


Within everyone is the desire to have a purpose and a meaning to their life beyond simply pursuing pleasure and material wealth. When it comes to gamification marketing, the simple addition of an introductory story in a game puts forth the why behind a game along with the addition of a desirable reward is all that needs to be put in place for customers to take on the journey with a sense of pride.

Ultimately, when given a task with a well-defined reason behind it along with a clear goal to aim for, it will both pique the interest and engagement of the customer.


Having attainable goals, when reached can give individuals a sense of pride, fulfilment and satisfaction. The brand association tied to a customer achieving their pursuits can have immensely positive long-term results.

This feeds into the loss aversion theory as studies suggest that on a psychological level, losses can be twice as powerful as gains. This maintains that individuals would rather avoid losses than acquire equivalent gains. Following this model, an individual would prefer to not lose $5, as opposed to finding $5. 


People are willing to participate in any task if the reward is great enough. Whether that be the euphoria that comes with accomplishment or the tangible incentives upon completion. Positive experiences are the driving force behind most customer decisions, so if a marketing campaign can utilise the core values of gamification effectively, it stands to yield great returns from customer engagement.

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