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How can brands use impact games to foster loyalty and trust?

By Lebo Lekoma
This time of the year is critical for all brands, bringing both opportunity and increased competition. On Black Friday alone, for example, South Africans spent billions of Rands, with at least one bank reporting record spending on the day. And for many people, the annual shopping extravaganza is just the beginning of the festive buying season. It’s therefore critical that brands and businesses do everything in their power to encourage, and reward, loyalty among their customers.

brands, games, brand loyalty

One of the best ways of doing so is by leveraging the power of impact games. Put simply, impact games is an umbrella term which refers to games that are purpose-driven. The merit of these games is expressed through their ability to add value and promote behaviour change and learning outcomes.

For organisations of all sizes and across all sectors, impact games can help produce better and more desirable outcomes for customers and employees alike.

The power of impact games

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “impact games”, chances are you’re probably familiar with the concept even if you don’t realise it. If you’ve ever encountered a game in your child’s or your own education or seen a game used as a workplace training tool, you’ve witnessed impact games in action.

These games can mirror the dynamic interactions, structural complexities, and feedback loops that characterise real-world situations and scenarios. In doing so, they can encourage and reward the kind of outcomes that organisations want from their employees in a comparatively low-stakes environment.

Impact games also have massive potential from a consumer perspective too. Organisations in the financial sector have, for example, used impact games to turn complex and boring subjects into engaging activities. That, in turn, can help them better navigate those situations in the real world.

It should be obvious why those kinds of employee and consumer outcomes are desirable, but impact games have other uses too, particularly when it comes to marketing.

Impact games and marketing

The idea of using games for marketing purposes is hardly new. In fact, the first in-game adverts appeared as far back as the 1980s. Not long after, brands started putting out their own games (some of which were of questionable quality) as dedicated marketing tools. But impact games have slightly different goals.

Rather than simply trying to build an association between a specific brand and having fun, impact games aim to drive loyalty by providing a way for brands and consumers to exchange and share value. In doing so, brands can help build trust among consumers – something that’s critical in order to foster loyalty. Creating that sense of brand trust and loyalty has only become more important over the years with the evolving needs and expectations of consumers. Impac games in the marketing space also offer the potential to reward customers for their engagement and loyalty in ways that are far more exciting than a simple points balance on the bottom of a till slip.

As such, impact games potentially have a bigger role to play than ever. Indeed, when you combine that evolution with ongoing digitalisation, they may just provide the best possible way for businesses to engage with consumers in ways that are actually valuable and relevant to them.

Of course, for any marketing vehicle to be effective, it has to be measurable too. Here too, impact games have a lot to offer. That’s because they offer businesses access to their own customer data, allowing them to build up meaningful insights into consumer behaviours. That, in turn, can result in better decision-making on the business’s end.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that impact games are readily scalable. That means if a business is seeing success with a test group, it can easily roll out the game to a broader market. As long as the right infrastructure’s in place, it can be as simple as ensuring that more people know that the game is available to play.

Standing out in the noise

Ultimately, the festive season can feel incredibly noisy for consumers. Every brand is shouting for their attention, whether it be on the street, in the store, or on any one of the screens they spend most of their days on. But the trust and loyalty that those self-same brands crave and seek to reward isn’t built through shouting. For that, they’re much better off investing in impact games to create a meaningful dialogue between brand and consumer.

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