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?

Super-engagement

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.

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