It’s Gamification, but not like you’ve seen it before!

January 12, 2014

This is not an article about new ways to gamify a community or a set of questionnaires. It’s about how thinking creatively can help to embed a research project into a business.

Research as an industry has got a bit of an image problem. It is too often perceived as being heavy, boring and dull. The term, ‘death by PowerPoint’ comes to mind.

This is especially true of large-scale projects like U&As or segmentations; they’re big research projects. Big projects require big investments and the business wants a big return on them. 

Sometimes, the implementation of project outcomes is impeded due to the fact that not everyone is involved in the project, yet its findings may have wide ranging implications.

We believe that if researchers can be creative and engage stakeholders in different ways, they are much more likely to have their findings ‘bought into’. When we say creative, we do not mean wearing cool sneakers and hipster jeans, nor do we mean coming up with a funky research methodology (although that can help too).

This idea of creativity is about how a project is activated, how it is run into the business. In particular, it’s about how we get people to engage in and embrace a project they may not have contributed to. There are numerous ways to do this, depending on many factors, like the company culture and size.

We think one of the best ways to achieve engagement is through gamification. As an industry we look to gamify the research we conduct, but we rarely gamify how our research is outputted.

This can be done in numerous ways – online games for staff based around a segmentation, or perhaps trivia-based questions. With a recent Simplot segmentation, as an example, we needed the entire business to be believers, so we took a novel approach to ensuring staff were clear on who the segments were and what made them tick.

Yes, there was a debrief. There was a consultation process on the segments themselves, and the business chose the segment structure that made the most business sense to them.

Having landed on a set of segments we created a series of workshops based on the Australian game show “Sale of the Century”.

The objective of the game was to accumulate points for correct answers about the different segments. There were the classic ‘Who am I?’ questions, along with a raft of others like ‘true or false’, and ‘Which of the segments is most likely to…’.

We were also able to determine which segment each staff member fell into without them knowing their answer. In hindsight, this was (to put it lightly) a masterstroke, as we were able to create questions around the people in the business, such as ‘Match the segment to the person’. This helped to make things tangible for staff. Not just the project team but the entire Sales, Marketing, Procurement and Product teams.

Prizes were awarded to winners of different categories (often just silly prizes). The enthusiasm for the segments that had been developed was fantastic. The 50 or so staff who participated now have a tangible picture and clarity around each of the segments.

On top of the game show, we created videos, adorned the offices with posters and produced desktop cheat sheets to create knowledge short cuts. Everywhere staff looked, they could learn about the segments.

These initiatives may seem like a “nice to have”, however we wanted this to become part of the fabric of the company. You could also argue the same for an online community or a survey, just ask the questions and get it done, being technically correct is all that matters. So why gamify those? The answer is simple: engagement.

Yes, the segmentation had to be correct. Yes, it had to fit into the daily working lives of the marketing and sales staff in order for it to have credibility. But given the enthusiasm this activity established for the business, and the clarity it provided the teams who participated in it, this approach was worth its weight.

The gamification of how we outputted definitely contributed to the ‘acceptance’ and willingness of staff to use the information and build it into the different elements of their working lives like sales analysis, product development and target definition.

It is always a test of a project like a segmentation to hear people using the segments effortlessly in their briefs and discussions internally. This is certainly the case at Simplot.

Whilst the fundamentals of the study were crucial, we think creative thinking on the back end helped to embed the results into the business, and helped contribute to the return on investment.


Presentation image source:

Sale of the Century image source: