The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Changing Buyer Behaviour Via Gamification

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Psychology impacts nearly every aspect of a customer’s interaction with a brand from brand preconceptions to decision making and all the way through to long term integration of a brand into the customer’s lifestyle. All of which can be in one way or another influenced by smart marketing agencies. 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.

Persuasion requires an understanding of the customer’s neurology, psychology and biology. While this may sound daunting, thanks to the unprecedented advancements in both Internet accessibility and smartphone usage in the last decade. Customer devices such as tablets and phones have been 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.

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.

In this article, I’ll focus on gamification and how it can change a customer’s mindset through a positive experience.

We all have feelings, ambitions, insecurities, and reasons for whether or not we want to do certain things. Gamification being structured around Human-Focused Design optimises for these feelings, motivations, and engagements in order to reach a customer with a branded message in a way most standard marketing cannot. 

User Interface (UI) vs User Experience (UX)

When it comes to Apps, Websites and Products, the terms User Interface and User Experience are often thrown around to describe the ins and outs of said subject. However Gamification Marketing being an experience based form of marketing can also run through the UI/UX guidelines. While User Experience is a conglomeration of tasks focused on the optimisation of a product for effective and enjoyable use; User Interface Design is its compliment, the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product.

A lot of Marketing Agencies often make the mistake of neglecting one of these elements for the other or simply confuse one for the other entirely. The obvious answer is to strike a balance between the two, UI and UX compliment each other when done correctly, in the case of Gamification Marketing when you can create an interactive campaign that has intuitive functionality mixed with a fun and engaging experience, you have created a successful campaign, no matter what the subject matter or budget.

How you reach this synergy in a campaign is through setting out to understand the business’ goals as well as the user’s needs and satisfaction, in a coherent fashion. A lot of people think that when it comes to persuading people, the simple use of logic will prevail.

The truth is trying to tap into the side of customers that is a rational being seems to bare no fruit. A lot of iPhone users are well aware that iPhones are not the superior smartphones in a lot of categories and yet they will continue to upgrade their iPhones with every updated model, why? Because Apple are a leading example in how a product with a balanced UI/UX can dominate theoretically superior competition.

Five Psychological Principles Fuelling Gamification

Psychologist Martin Seligman, has dedicated his life to the study of the human mind and how positive and negative psychological health effects a person’s outlook on different topics. After many successful writings and discoveries Martin formulated the PERMA model which was crucial for lasting well being.

Gamification marketing with its human-focused design, taps into each of the 5 points of the PERMA model, in order to satisfy the unspoken desires of the human mind and connect customers with brands in the process.

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 into 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 peak 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. 

Looking at Gamification Marketing through the lens of the PERMA model, you can begin to see elements that gamification provide that help psychologically change buyer behaviour such as:

  • Leaderboards

  • Journey

  • Quests

  • Loss Aversion

  • Progression

  • Badges

  • Rewards

  • Narrative

  • Levels

  • Challenge

  • Blissful Productivity

  • Discovery

  • Virality

  • Game Mechanics

  • Free Lunch

  • Community Collaboration

  • Points

  • Emotions

In the end, buyer behaviour is changed through; positive experiences with a brand, customer care and habitual life usage. Gamification marketing can assist with the first point but it is up to the brand to cultivate within the company a sense of strong customer care and a well oiled user experience to encourage habitual life usage. This can be achieved through setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Based).

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