Skip to content

Why gamification makes sense for firms looking to attract millennials

With technology offering a raft of new solutions for financial services, and with trust in the industry low, firms in the sector are being forced to rethink how they interact with customers. One such strategy is gamification, where certain elements of game mechanics are integrated into existing products and services.

This can take the form of point scoring, competition or building reward systems with the ultimate aim of building greater loyalty, brand engagement and even understanding of a product. Gamification is seen as a particularly attractive approach for the millennial generation because of this age group’s greater focus on reward and willingness to experiment and innovate.

Gamification has been used as an effective engagement tool for millennials in other fields, such as education. However, in financial services, it remains relatively untapped.

So why should financial services firms implement a gamification strategy that not only attracts, but also retains millennials?


Neil Bage of Suitable Strategies works closely with companies who are looking to understand customer behaviour, particularly in the financial services sector.

“There is great deal of research that shows using game mechanics can “create a sense of meaning, provide a feeling of mastery, promote autonomy, and create super-engagement”, he says. “But the only way to successfully implement a strategy is if the task in hand feels easy to do, and creates a high level of motivation.”

For Bage, gamification is a highly effective way of driving engagement.

“One of the questions I’m often asked when I’m out and about talking to clients is “how many questions are there”, he explains. “My stock response is always, “don’t ask how many questions there are, ask how long the process feels”. You see, when you’ve gamified a process, and have created genuine engagement, people don’t take notice of how long something is taking – they’re too engaged in what they are doing!”

You have to fish where the fishes are

If we are to continue to “engage, retain and make our industry relevant”, Bage believes it is essential to “not only learn to speak the language of the consumer, but interact with them in a way that isn’t alien to them.”

According to Bage, when it comes to millennials, this language is likely to be related to gaming.

“Before turning 21, the average millennial has spent on average 2500 hours reading books but 3x that playing video games”, he says.

In other words, you need to fish where the fishes are.

Makes it fun

For Alex Jones, Head of Market Research at consumer website Boring Money, gamification fundamentally works by making the task at hand – in this case managing money – more fun.

“If done well, it can be an interactive and different way to engage consumers with something that they often perceive – and experience – to be dull and complicated,” Jones says.

But Jones believes there is even more potential in the opportunity it gives to consumers to learn about the product at their own pace.

“[Applying elements of gamification] and allowing consumers to play and interact is a really effective way of enabling them to learn and educate themselves about a product or service with which they are unfamiliar,” Jones explains. “Without this interaction, they may dismiss the product as being complex and ‘not for me’. This way, however, consumers can learn by trial and error and as their knowledge and understanding develops, so does their confidence.”

Keep it simple

For Jones, keeping gamification simple and targeted can yield the best results.

“We have found that play and gamification doesn’t need to be snazzy,” Jones says. ”Too much of it can actually polarize opinion. But done correctly, the fact that a consumer can play around with a product in itself underlines the simplicity and usability of the product or service in question. This is clearly a highly effective trait when much of the market space is thought to be complicated and difficult.”

Case study

Monzo, the digital bank, has taken gamification to new levels.

The “Targets” feature of the Monzo app has been optimised to keep users as engaged as possible.

Users can set monthly targets for each category of their spending habits, and the app notifies them if they’re spending too much or too fast. Monzo uses a combination of push notifications, in-app feed items and graphs to keep users aware of their targets – all sprinkled with emojis.

We hope you found this blog interesting. However, if it wasn’t technical enough for you, don’t worry – we will be featuring a blog about how to apply gamification to products and services in the coming weeks.

What we’ve been reading – Top millennial stories from the past week


  1. Congratulations Millennials, you now have your own airline

Air France will be launching its own airline, Joon, geared towards millennials. A statement by the airline said the new brand had “been entirely designed to meet [millennials’] requirements and aspirations, with an authentic and connected offering that stands out in the world of air transport.”

  1. A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows

Research by Harvard University this week suggested that millennials were rejecting capitalism. The poll, of young adults aged between 18 and 29, found that 51% of respondents did not support capitalism. However, Corbyn and Sanders should keep the champagne on ice for the time being: just 33% said they supported socialism.

  1. More Than 1 in 4 Millennials Work a Side Hustle

New data from Bankrate reveals that 28% of millennials are doing extra work on the side. Deeper drilling into the results reveals that many of them are running side businesses, reflecting an entrepreneurial side to the generation.

  1. Are millennials frivolous with their money? Not by this measure

This article cites another survey by Bankrate which analyses spending among the different generations. It indicates that, while millennials do spend more than older generations, much of it is on essential items, such as food, petrol – due to longer commutes caused by higher house prices – and mobile phone usage.

  1. Bling it on: what makes a millennial spend more?

This new report from Deloitte looks at the luxury market and millennials’ relationship with it. Among other findings, it suggested that millennials’ spending has become more fragmented and impulsive.

Unclaimed assets: How can millennials keep track of their bank accounts?

As millennials look to boost their bank balance and graduate to the next life stage, whether that’s buying a house, getting married or having children, it is essential they are doing all they can to make the most of their finances. But with pay packets squeezed and the cost of living high, it is also key to protect your money – and this means more than finding a high yielding savings account.

According to Josh Cousens of Monimine, which helps reunite lost financial assets with their owners, there are currently £25 billion of lost assets in the UK.

“A common viewpoint is that unclaimed money won’t affect you until later in life,” says Cousens. But there are several things that you can do now to seal your financial accounts and prevent money from slipping through the cracks.

“Lost assets can materialise in an array of monetary accounts, including premium bonds, bank and building society accounts, stocks and shares, life insurance and pensions, rainy day savings, inheritances and savings and investment accounts.”

So what do millennials need to know about unclaimed money and how can they prevent their money slipping through the cracks?

Ensure you stay contactable

“The biggest issue surrounding lost assets is failing to notify your financial provider when you change address,” Cousens says. “If you don’t state your new address, your correspondence will still be sent to the previous residence, and you won’t be contactable. Any outstanding money that lies within that account will then be considered unclaimed.”

This can be particularly troublesome for students, Cousens believes. “From university, to home, back to university and then to a new city, and it can be very easy to forget to keep your accounts informed of your current address.

“However, making the effort to speak with your financial providers and declaring your new address will pay dividends in the long run, when you still have access to all your money.”

Keep up with pension providers

“Another way people unwittingly lose money is through pension pots,” Cousens tells us. “Statistics published by Equiniti revealed that the average person will have at least six jobs in their lifetime. When an individual starts a new job, it can be easy to forget to notify the pension provider of the new company.

“Many people even take out a new pension and completely forget about the old one. If the provider is unable to contact you and you have forgotten about them, it’s very simple for owed money to become trapped and left unclaimed.”

Cousens recommends keeping a record of each job’s pension provider, to help stay on track.

Keep in touch…wherever you are in the world

“Many millennials embark on gap years abroad, both pre and post university and some even decide to stay abroad for longer periods,” says Cousens. “Amid all the fun and excitement of exploring new continents, keeping in communication with your financial providers at home can be easy to forget. But this is a mistake. It opens the trap door for your accounts to be labelled as dormant, and for money to trickle into the ‘unclaimed’ pot.”

Don’t put off writing a will

Cousens advises millennials to write a will.

“Many people share the belief that writing a will doesn’t need to happen until later on in life,” he says. “Even among older age groups not having a will is common – 78% of adults aged between 30 and 39 haven’t written a will for instance. But without a will, it can be easy to lose track of your finances. By organising your estate at a younger age, your finances will be secure. You’ll be able to decide where your money goes and have the peace of mind of knowing your family will be economically protected.”

What the Taylor review could mean for millennials

The Taylor review is far from comprehensive, but is heartening to see that it presents a balanced and nuanced view of the job market. So how does the review, and its recommendations, reflect the needs of the millennial generation?

It champions flexible working hours

The fixed 9-5 working structure is on its way out. Many younger workers value a work life balance and expect flexibility to be built into a job. A 2016 study by Fidelity found millennials would take an average pay cut of $7,600 if it meant they could improve their work-life balance or more purposeful work. Equally, others juggle both professional and personal interests alongside their day jobs. The review recognises this shift and makes recommendations such as enhancing, rather than eliminating, zero hour contracts, in order to support this.

It understands the relationship between good working conditions and mental and physical wellbeing

Mental health is becoming more of a concern in today’s pressurised environment and a recent study found one in five millennials reported being depressed. Mindful of this, the review sets out some concrete and practical steps designed to protect workers’ wellbeing. It also highlights exactly how it is in the interests of the employer to put in place safeguards in this respect, particularly when it comes to productivity and engagement.

It recognises the value to younger workers of zero hour contracts…

Zero hour contracts have been pilloried by the press as a result of the supposed uncertainty they cause workers. But for younger, more flexible workers, including students and those just starting out in the world of work and looking to supplement their incomes, they can be a useful resource. In fact, research by PwC found that 45% of millennials would be willing to consider such contracts. The Taylor review recognises this and has made strong recommendations to consider the positives going forward.

…But recommends steps to enhance their security

However, there is plenty of evidence to show that some workers on zero hour contracts are not treated fairly. For example, many feel unable to refuse shifts or make complaints for fear of not being offered work in the future. The Taylor review suggests giving full employee rights to those who work over a threshold of say 40 hours per week. If implemented, this would be a positive for younger workers in particular as they are increasingly called upon to shoulder the burden of saving adequately for retirement.

It embraces technology

The review takes into account the opportunities provided by technology for facilitating the working lives of millennials and other self-employed workers. For instance, it highlights the possibility of using digital platforms as a way of increasing autonomy of working lives, citing a scheme being piloted by Tesco which allows workers to book overtime and holidays remotely. This is an efficient way of meeting the millennial generation’s desire for slick, on the move technology as well as making it easier and more manageable to control working hours.

What we’ve been reading – Top millennial stories from the past week

Could old Etonian Jacob Rees-Mogg be a foil to the unstoppable rise of Jeremy Corbyn? “What millennials warm to [about Rees-Mogg] is his extraordinary authenticity” says James Delingpole in The Spectator, as he looks at Rees-Mogg’s rapid ascension through the Tory party ranks.

Meet the millennials’ younger sibling. Little attention has so far been paid to Generation Z, the latest generation to hit adulthood, but data gathered by US-based political science professor Jeff Brauer suggests they are even more conservative than their millennial counterparts which could shape policies in the years to come.

This study, carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute in conjunction with Unite Students, found that millennials about to enter university are woefully unprepared for “the real world”. Not only are many experiencing physical symptoms such as panic attacks and difficulties sleeping, a number of specific areas have been highlighted where applicants’ expectations are out of line with reality. (With thanks to Jason Butler for alerting me to this via Twitter.)

 The changing of the guard is apace as millennials officially become the largest generation (in the US). As immigration adds more numbers to its group than any other, the millennial population is now not expected to peak until 2036.

 New research, carried out by marketing agency ZAK, reveals reluctance among those under 30 about being referred to as millennials. According to the research, too many negative connotations have put this age group off the term, while Professor Cary Cooper of Manchester business school argues it has become meaningless since it encompasses too many different groups.

Millennial matters: reaching the next generation

Millennials – those aged between 18 and 34 – are an increasingly important subset of society. Not only are they growing in affluence, they are also growing in influence. But despite this many, including in the financial services sector, still struggle to understand how best to reach them. Scepticism remains about whether this group is even worthy of their attention. Others are more pragmatic: they see there will ultimately be value in targeting this group, but unfortunately they simply do not have the resources at the moment to serve this group adequately without making a loss. So how can this be done? Let’s consider the facts.

As a group, millennials are predicted to make up 50% of the global workplace by 2020 according to PwC. As they progress through each of the life stages, they will increasingly come into contact with the financial services sector.

Currently, millennials have relatively simple needs, particularly younger ones, who are likely to need little more than a bank account and basic savings account.

However, that is all about to change. In the coming years, a cascade of wealth could see this age group inherit around £400bn according to Royal London. Compound this with the steadily increasing pay packets that come with growing professional seniority and we suddenly have an avalanche of assets flooding its way into the pockets of this age group. The industry must be ready to find ways to serve their needs.

How to do this? Success will depend on understanding the unique needs of the millennial, whose defining characteristics include a preference for ‘experiences’ over materialistic goods and a more purpose driven outlook. Equally, however, millennials want what the general public wants – good quality services at a fair price that they feel they can trust, as well as the security of knowing that help and guidance is available should they need it. They also cover a broad group – the younger ones are just starting university while others are firmly established professionally with growing families and burgeoning assets.

This LinkedIn group aims to examine approaches to getting the financial services sector to engage with this group while speaking to millennials themselves about what matters to them and how they want to be engaged with. It will offer ideas on how the industry (in all its subsets) can reach this group early and start to build long standing and mutually rewarding relationships. With levels of financial understanding low in the UK, we will also consider how education can boost levels of engagement and confidence of millennials in this sector and how better financial education can be achieved.

As a subject that is coming more and more to the fore as the financial sector looks for more and more ways to boost profitability and enhance its services and products, I hope this group will raise as many questions as it hopes to answer.

Five ways high youth turnout could reshape the UK

To paraphrase The Sun, it was the young that won it. Well, not exactly, but early estimates from Thursday’s General Election put turnout amongst 18-24 year olds at 72% (although official figures have not yet been released). The rise in the number of young voters seems to have done much to elevate Jeremy Corbyn from hapless party leader facing onslaught after onslaught from his own party to arguably the real ‘strong and stable’ leader.

Although Theresa May is set to form a collation with Northern Ireland’s DUP and continue as prime minster, the political landscape is undeniably shifting. It seems that the young have learnt their lesson from failing to vote at the EU referendum poll and as a result, we are seeing genuine political engagement from this age group.

Could this be a new brave new political dawn, signalling a world in which young people actually matter to the political classes? Has the grey vote had its day? If this pattern continues, UK politicians could find themselves with vastly different priorities – which take into account the concerns and aspirations of the young.

So what are the concerns of younger voters? Here are five ways this surge could reshape the UK landscape.

  1. Cheaper university fees

A divisive issue, the cost of tuition fees have risen substantially to make the UK one of the most expensive places in the world to study. But increased engagement from the current crop of students who are keen to see the full value of their degree and pressure on the government from the rejuvenated youth could see these fees lowered or even scrapped altogether.

  1. More favourable conditions for self-employed workers

As a generation with different expectations of work from their parents, this demographic expects to eke out as much purpose as they can from their jobs, and  for a better work life balance. This, and the relatively insecure job market for this age group mean many young are either setting up businesses or freelancing, the tax regime for the self-employed could change radically in the coming years as it looks to accommodate and nurture the entrepreneurial generation. Equally, with the self-employed currently effectively excluded from initiatives such as pensions auto-enrolment, we could expect to see such schemes expanded to help boost the chances of such workers being able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

  1. Subsidised travel

Lower disposable incomes mean that young people welcome all the help they can get when it comes to cutting down on essential spending. Equally, a rise in the number of young people seeking ‘experiences’ over material objects means that demand for travel has increased. The additional issue of poor customer satisfaction across our rail networks could see pressure on services to offer more affordable seats.

  1. More ethically responsible goods and services

With young people increasingly motivated by a sense of ‘authenticity’ and purpose and having the ability through social media to hold companies to account, they are driving a push towards greater corporate social responsibility from firms. This has led to improved quality and sourcing of products. A niche but potentially important area that could really benefit from this surge is that of impact investing, which aims to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.

  1. More affordable housing

With house prices being kept artificially high through a combination of low interest rates and supply chains being overwhelmed by demand, many young people have been shut out of the market and forced into high cost rental properties. However, with a younger demographic to appeal to, the government could finally make decisive steps towards building more affordable living and helping stabilise prices.

Of course, it’s early days yet and while an important battle has been won for the young vote, long term victory is far from assured. But if the current trends continue, expect these issues to take even more of a central role on the agenda of those shaping our country.