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How Casper, Albertsons, and Nike gamify the customer journey

Gamification can be used to enhance the customer journey from awareness to advocacy. Here’s how five brands are embracing gamification across different stages, including Casper’s puzzle-based subway ads and Nike’s run-tracking mobile app.

1. Awareness

This stage is about introducing yourself to the consumer. Imagine they know nothing about your brand: What do you want them to associate with you? What kind of relationship do you want to have with your customers?

Incorporating gamification at this point can be tricky. Activations need to be engaging enough to catch consumers’ attention but not so much work that consumers feel overwhelmed.

High score: Probably the best example dates back to 2019, when Casper launched a series of New York City subway ads as part of an out-of-home campaign. The ads featured sleep-themed picture puzzles that were fun and easy to solve on a commute home from work. The playful ads illustrated that Casper was cooler than your average mattress store but just as focused on giving customers a good night’s sleep.

2. Consideration

Now you need to show consumers why they should choose your brand over another. This is where you want to highlight how your product or service is higher quality, less expensive, or more convenient than other brands.

Gamification at this level should help the consumer narrow down their options and identify which of your products/services are the best fit. It can also be a good way to get to know what consumers are looking for from your brand.

High score: Custom haircare brand Prose invites potential customers to answer a series of questions that will determine the right formulation for each individual. The quiz’s purpose is threefold: it creates a more interactive way for consumers to learn about Prose, it helps personalize product results, and it provides Prose with valuable customer data.

3. Purchase

To make a conversion, a number of variables have to align, including availability, price, and payment.

Any gamification features should only make the path to purchase easier with discounts, rewards, or freebies.

High score: Recently, Albertsons Companies created a limited-time-only game called Flavor Adventure, which gave customers the chance to uncover coupons, discounts, recipes, and chances to win prizes. The game could be played online, in-app, or even by mail, making it accessible to customers no matter their technology situation.

4. Retention

To turn first-time buyers into repeat customers, brands need to find a way to keep the conversation going after the purchase, potentially through a loyalty program or personalized messaging.

Here, gamification can help brands organically incorporate themselves into customers’ everyday lives.

High score: Nike Run Club is a free run-tracking and training app. It keeps track of pace, location, distance, elevation, heart rate, and mile splits, while also enabling users to connect with friends and other runners through experiences or challenges. Consumers don’t have to make a purchase to use the app, though we’re willing to bet we know which company they’ll think of first when they need new running shoes.

5. Advocacy

Lastly, there’s the advocacy stage, where customers tell their friends and family why they love your brand. This is where brands can use gamification to make it as easy as possible for customers to write reviews, share on social, or even become official brand ambassadors.

High score: In addition to offering rewards for shopping, flower delivery service Teleflora awards customers points for liking the company on Facebook, following it on Twitter, and referring friends. It also clearly outlines the points-to-dollars conversion, making it easy for customers to understand exactly how it works.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.