Gamification and Market Research

As anyone who has uncovered a truly groundbreaking consumer insight can tell you, market research can be pretty fun. But as the industry continues to evolve and adapt to new technologies, the opportunities for making research more fun for respondents have grown significantly. Beyond keeping participants engaged with projective techniques and focused thanks to compelling composition, market researchers are thinking of ways to keep them amused too. The idea is pretty popular in other forms of research, and has come to be known as the process of gamification.

Is This Just a Game to You?

If you just balked at the idea of turning your robust research into a game for people’s amusement, you’re not alone. The idea of applying game-design elements to non-game contexts is still a relatively new and slightly controversial one. Some of the most well-recognized attempts have come in the form of wearable fitness and Pokémon Go, and there’s plenty of concern over the unintended, detrimental, or just plain disappointing effects of gamifying everyday life. One of the criticisms perhaps most relevant to market research is when gamification becomes more of a simple reward system rather than an incorporation of true game mechanics.

But when thoughtfully integrated into a solid research design with clear questions and instructions, gamification becomes an exciting possibility for researchers across industries. Below are a few high-level approaches to start turning your research into a game.

1. Leverage Mobile and Social. Mobile phones and social media are already pretty amusing; even swiping along Tinder feels like a game. Infuse this playful mindset into your research by offering mobile market surveys that leverage the best parts of the mobile experience, like snapping pics of products or mapping a shopping errand. Try to incorporate the option to share results and/or participation via social media, potentially spurring interaction and amusement that continue after the study is done.

2. Make It a Challenge. Make your study a little more exciting by framing questions in a way that offers up a challenge to respondents: e.g., asking them to list all the adjectives they associate with your brand in under a minute. You can even add a competitive element by pitting participants against each other, posing the question as a race to answer faster, more uniquely, or more comprehensively.

3. Use Your Imagination. Though many of the games we enjoy involve complex and often abstract thinking, most surveys don’t have any expectations for people to think at all. If one of your survey tasks is a bit less stimulating than others (say, describing banking processes), it can be helpful to present the ask in a more imaginative way, asking them to picture themselves in particular circumstances or settings, and answer accordingly. This encourages respondents to open up and reveal rich detail that probably wouldn’t have occurred to them otherwise.

When it comes to making the research experience more relaxed, playful, and stimulating, the methods of gamification can prove to be invaluable to engaging respondents towards actionable results. But we’d like to know what you think: take a moment to answer our poll below and tell us what you think about games and market research.

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And to learn more about how parents and their children feel about not only games, but the toys and recreational products that are marketed to them, check out the executive summary below.

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