Gamification Marketing: Playful Customer Engagement

Gamification Marketing: Playful Customer Engagement

Sissy Scheible
Sissy Scheible
published on July 5, 2023   

Gamification Marketing - The most important points in brief:

  • Gamification marketing is a method of integrating game mechanisms and elements into the marketing process.

  • Gamification Marketing is based on human nature to seek challenges, rewards and competition.

  • Gamification marketing can be used in all areas of the customer journey.

  • Not only big brands can use Gamification Marketing for themselves.

“The human being only truly plays where he is in the full sense of the word human, and he is only entirely human where he plays.” (Friedrich Schiller)

The principle of winning and engaging customers through games is not new. Perhaps you still remember the iconic drag and drop computer game “Bifi Roll – Action in Hollywood” or the jump and run game “Tony & Friends” by Kellogg’s, both released in 1994. Is gamification marketing still relevant today? Definitely, because in the age of smartphones, people are playing more than ever.

Gamification marketing of 1994: Two cult freeware games from 1994 that were essentially just advertisements.

Two cult freeware games from 1994 that were essentially just advertisements.

What is Gamification Marketing?

The term “gamification” is derived from the English word “game.” Gamification marketing is a method where game mechanics and elements are integrated into the marketing process to increase customer engagement, enhance motivation, and positively influence their behavior. It involves introducing playful aspects into the interaction with the brand and engaging customers in a fun way in the marketing process.

How does Gamification Marketing work?

You will earn 100 LocalUp points if you read this article until the end. If you can do it faster than others, you will receive bonus points. If you also read all the other blog articles, you will be awarded the title of “Favorite Customer.” This is how Gamification Marketing works, for example. It is based on human nature to strive for challenges, rewards, and competition. By incorporating specific elements into marketing that support gamification, customers can be motivated to perform certain actions (by the way, there is also the LocalUp Hero award for newsletter sign-ups), share information, make purchases, or participate in market research. Some examples of such elements include:

Progress Indicators

Displays that show users how far they have progressed with the “task” assigned to them by the company motivate them to keep going. This effect can be enhanced by elements such as “well done,” “you are 10 percent faster than other users,” or “you only need 10 more points to…”.


Leaderboards create a competitive atmosphere. We humans always want to measure ourselves against others. When customers see that others have performed tasks better or faster, it motivates them to make further attempts or to put in more effort, time, and attention into the task. If users are high on the leaderboard, they will share their success with others to showcase their achievements.

Tasks / Quests

The completion of small, simple tasks leads to the release of hormones that create feelings of happiness. Gamification marketing ensures that customers associate these feelings of happiness with the company and its product.

Transparency of Results

The user’s performance must always be displayed transparently. A game, quiz, or similar activity without visible results demotivates the users, and they will not attempt it again.


Feedback motivates customers to keep going. This can be praise for good performance or motivating feedback for results that need improvement.


Tasks that people perceive as meaningless are either not performed or carried out with extremely low motivation. When designing your gamification marketing, make sure not to let users play something completely pointless. The best or most engaged players or participants could, for example, be rewarded with a prize. Customers are often invited to create new product designs or flavors, and the best ones are eventually implemented. Charitable actions and similar initiatives are also a meaningful motivation for customers to participate in your marketing campaign. For example, a certain amount could be donated to a charitable organization per participant.

In which areas can Gamification Marketing be used?


By integrating playful elements into social media campaigns or viral games, companies can capture the attention of potential customers and increase brand awareness.

Customer Acquisition

By offering playful incentives such as coupons, discounts, or exclusive content, companies can encourage customers to sign up for newsletters, enroll in memberships, or register for services. Newsletter sign-ups are particularly common with online advent calendars, where customers can only win the prizes hidden behind the doors by subscribing to the newsletter. Additionally, such a giveaway ensures that customers visit your website daily for 24 consecutive days.

Customer Retention

By creating loyalty-based reward systems, challenges, and competitions, companies can motivate customers to continue interacting with the brand, make repeat purchases, and engage in positive word-of-mouth promotion.

Product Interaction

Gamification can be used to encourage customers to leave product reviews, participate in surveys or product customizations, making them feel like they are part of the development process.

Sales Promotion

Whether it’s collecting loyalty points like in Payback or automatically participating in a giveaway, such as “Finde das Muuh” by Müller Milch: When the purchase of a product includes the chance to win a prize or receive a reward, customers are proven to be more inclined to make a purchase.

Screenshot of Müllers gamification marketing "Finde das Muuh"

Although the probability of finding the mooing bottle is extremely low, the advertising campaign consistently increases the sales of Müller Milk.

Examples of successful gamification marketing

McDonald’s Monopoly

One long-standing and successful gamification marketing campaign is “McDonald’s Monopoly.” Customers receive stickers when they purchase certain products, which can either grant them an instant prize or lead to an even bigger win through successful collecting. The larger the menu ordered, the more stickers are provided. This game has been running in Germany since 2001. The fact that it has been regularly held for over 20 years speaks to the immense success of this gamification marketing strategy.


Language apps like Duolingo are becoming increasingly popular. The reason is that languages are not learned through boring vocabulary drills and grammar lessons like in school, but through fun mini-games. For example, users have to match word pairs, find the right words for pictures, and complete listening and speaking tasks. The more tasks you complete in a row, the more points and additional rewards you can win. Consistent daily play is also encouraged. Certain self-set goals, such as playing three times a week, are also rewarded when achieved. It is also possible to compare your own progress with other customers learning the same language.

Duolingo gamification marketing: Those who solve such mini puzzles not only earn XP but can also see how quickly and well the tasks were solved.

Those who solve such mini puzzles not only earn XP but can also see how quickly and well the tasks were solved.

Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe (Leipzig Transport Company)

The “Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe” (LVB) partnered with gamification provider “Pfeffermind” to implement a digital scavenger hunt in their app. In the six-week campaign aimed at increasing passenger numbers and improving the company’s image, customers were engaged through game-like content in the app, encouraging interaction with the company. Riding with the transport company became a game rather than just a daily necessity. The results included stronger customer loyalty and increased attention to the offerings of LVB.

Gamifikation marketing of Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe: Even custom mascots were designed for the scavenger hunt. (Source: Pfeffermind)

Even custom mascots were designed for the scavenger hunt. (Source: Pfeffermind)

Estée Lauder

An example of marketing that actually takes the form of a computer game is that of cosmetic manufacturer Estée Lauder. For the launch of their serum “Fast Midnight Repair”, they created a website that introduces the product in an interactive and playful manner. The retro-style mini-games accessible through are called “Beauty Bounce,” “Smooth Satisfaction,” “Repair Racer,” and “Serum Quest.” The serum is portrayed as a rejuvenating product for the skin, for example, through phrases like “Earn skin-rejuvenating power points.” The example of Estée Lauder demonstrates that even conventional products can benefit from gamification marketing. Additionally, the campaign strengthened Estée Lauder’s branding and image.

Gamification Marketing at it´s best: The gameplay of Serum Quest is reminiscent of Space Invaders.

The gameplay of Serum Quest is reminiscent of Space Invaders.

Does gamification marketing suit your company?

Gamification marketing offers companies a unique opportunity to engage customers, increase their motivation, and build an emotional connection. By incorporating playful elements, companies can design their marketing strategies in an entertaining and engaging manner. However, before investing in gamification marketing, you should ensure that it aligns with your company’s target audience and goals. Thorough analysis and planning are crucial to select the right game mechanics and elements that resonate with and motivate your target audience. To ensure the success of your gamification marketing campaign, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  • Understanding your target audience: Gain a deep understanding of your target audience, their preferences, interests, and motivations. This will help you choose gamification elements that align with your customers’ needs and effectively engage them.
  • Setting clear goals: Define clear goals for your gamification marketing campaign. Do you want to increase customer engagement, foster customer loyalty, boost sales, or enhance brand awareness? By setting clear goals, you can measure and optimize the success of your campaign.
  • Choosing suitable game mechanics: Select game mechanics that are suitable for your brand, products, or services. Consider whether a point system, leaderboards, challenges, rewards, or social interactions would be best suited to encourage the desired behavior from your customers.
  • Integration into the marketing process: Ensure that gamification elements are seamlessly integrated into your marketing process. From your website to social media and email campaigns, all touchpoints with your brand should include a playful component to motivate and engage customers.

By considering these points, you can attract and retain customers in a playful manner, quite literally.

Congratulations! You have read the article to the end and receive 100 LocalUp points. 😉

Gamification Marketing: Playful Customer Engagement
Do you want your gamification marketing to go viral? Then continue reading here.