The rise of Generation X as a dominating consumer group has brought some changing attitudes towards the role of many new and innovative niches of the marketing ecosystem. Throughout 2012, social enterprise generated buzz as the latest new development in the explosive growth of social media. Facebook’s billion dollar buyout of Instagram in April symbolized how enthusiastic we were about these startups, but towards the end of the year, the excitement has certainly subsided, with current trends suggesting a changing wind.
Another genre beginning to come to the forefront of many marketers’ minds is the concept of ‘gaming.’ Startups are springing up offering services aimed at providing game-like experiences in contexts outside of the traditional realm of board games, video games, etc. The idea fueling these newcomers is that games help make technology more engaging, which is appealing far beyond just the entertainment industry. As we continue to better understand consumer behavior patterns, we may be entering a new era of “gamification.”
Humans are competitive by nature. Several years ago, the education industry discovered that games could be used to focus children’s attention and improve learning retention through this type of medium. A slew of new companies entering the current marketplace are asking a fair question – why not apply the same principles to consumer education?
InfoArmy recently launched a completely crowdsourced business research platform using several gamification techniques. Members receive badges, rankings and compete to top leaderboards for conducting online research. Not only does the service leverage our competitive nature to get users engaged, it provides an eloquent solution to logging and organizing data. Within the thrill of the ‘game,’ there is real potential for positive impact on data quality, learning, and ultimately ROI.
Other new startups are focusing on gaming for the purposes of reputation management and social mechanics, including ideas like social performance platforms for employees and HR. It is easy to think of multiple possible applications where gamification could provide a significant boost – any situation encouraging desired behaviors in order to solve problems.
It’s already part of our nature. The way we are captivated by professional sports or inclined to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is indicative that this may be a trend whose lifespan is much longer than the average tech sensation.