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Using Gamification to Drive Better Market Research Insights – A How-To Guide

Posted on: November 3rd, 2012   Written by:

Gamifying Market Research

Humans love games. Games play an important role throughout our lives – during childhood toys fascinate us, while our teen years are characterized by competing and strategizing with friends on video games, sports, and the most painful game of all – popularity. As we grow older, we are transfixed by quizzes and crosswords on our way to work; note the rise of Sudoku, and the ongoing popularity of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. While the type of game changes, the fundamentals remain the same. Competition, rules, rewards, feedback mechanisms, socialization, and personalization – most games have one or more of these characteristics that make them enjoyable, and addictive.

In our previous post, we articulated what Gamification is, and what market researchers need to know about it. While there is much discussion on how Gamification can be applied to market research, there is a lack of best practices and resources to aid researchers in increasing focus group engagement and depending market insights through game characteristics.

Here is a simple, functional way to improve market research surveys through Gamification.

Remember those university days when you signed up to become a subject for a market research project to top up your weekly income? It’s probably one of the easiest ways to gain extra cash. Many students like the idea of giving feedback and the opportunity to shape a new product or service.

However, the surveys and research questions are often boring for participants. Subjects feel like they are being politely interrogated with generic questions, with no personalization or effort made to increase their engagement.

In the past five years, the market research industry has incorporated this feedback into its methodologies, and has undergone major changes with many new tools, including concepts like Gamification.

Lets take this opportunity to revisit some of the those questions and see how we can Gamify them to increasing engagement and response rates:

Project Mission 1: To understand how international (foreign) students perceive different mobile phone brands in New Zealand.

Question 1: What’s your favorite mobile phone brand in New Zealand?

Gamified version: You moved to New Zealand five years ago, and your childhood friend is coming to study at university. You are their primary contact here. Which mobile phone company would you recommend them to sign up with and why?

Why is the Gamified version better? The first version is not personal and lacks context. On the other hand, the Gamified version has a story, a context, and is personalized to the respondent’s life.

Question 2: What are the shortcomings of Brand A relative to Brand B?

Gamified version: You have just been appointed as the Vice President of Marketing for Brand A and given a budget of $100,000 to increase customers and steal market share from Brand B. How do you articulate your brand’s value over the competition?

Why is the Gamified version better? In this case, we are using the competition aspect of Gamification to increase engagement. By giving respondents a team to play for, they are more likely to think deeply, and personally, about the question. The desired result (a more insightful answer) is achieved.

Question 3: How would you describe Brand A?

Gamified version: Describe Brand A in seven words or less.

Why is the Gamified version better? Rules. Rules have an incredible ability to increase engagement for even the most mundane activities. By limiting the sentence to only seven words, the subject sees this activity as a challenge. They then pick each word with greater care. This increases the quality of answers dramatically.

Project Mission 2: Identify the most popular recipes for a new pizza product line launch.

Setup: Subjects were taken to a room where they tasted various pizzas and took notes during the process to answer survey questions later.

What could have been done: This is a great opportunity to use innovative visuals to increase engagement among test subjects. Rather than requesting them to write on a piece of paper, the researchers could have given subjects descriptive text or visual labels that say or represent “Spicy”, “Sweet”, “Feeling happy”, “Wouldn’t recommend” etc. that subjects can use to label different versions of the product. This included aspect of ‘play’ is more likely to elicit instinctive reactions from subjects, which in turn produce better insights to guide product development.

In all the examples above, it seems fairly obvious that in the Gamified version of the questions, the researcher has gone above and beyond the standard practices, and designed the research questions with a clear focus on game characteristics, with an aim to increase user engagement.

What are the takeaways?

  • Humans like Games. Irrespective of our age, humans like games – although the type of games we enjoy changes as we grow older.
  • Game structure provokes stronger responses in survey subjects. Some of the fundamental characteristics that all games posses are – rules, competition, rewards, impactful visuals, and feedback mechanisms.
  • Better responses mean better research. By re-thinking survey questions and focus group interactions to include the characteristics of games, it’s possible to increase user engagement and thus the quality of responses.

Have you used Gamification principles in your research project? What are your thoughts about applying Gamification in research?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Alternatively, if you enjoyed reading this post, feel free to share it with your networks.

Written by Chirag Ahuja & Bethanie Maples Krogstad.

2 Responses to “Using Gamification to Drive Better Market Research Insights – A How-To Guide”

  1. November 19, 2012 at 4:30 am, Sharon Wolf said:

    Thank you for sharing useful tips in a well written post. I’m looking forward to structuring questions that employ game elements in my next survey. Games should always be part of a researchers’ projectives tool kit – they are a variation of projective techniques that enable research participants to think more creatively and to express unconscious ideas and attitudes.

    Reply

  2. December 10, 2013 at 4:25 am, KatharinaUrban said:

    Thank you for that post. I am currently designing my Bachelor thesis survey about internal gamification and this blog is a big help!

    Reply

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