Introducing ‘Generation Z’. Short attention spans, serial multi-taskers and with a mild smartphone addiction. You may not want to admit it, but if you were born between 1995 to 2009, you’re a member of ‘Generation Z’ and marketers around are world are busy figuring out just how to get your attention and keep it for that little longer than their competitors. 

While we don’t know too much about Gen Z yet, we have plenty of knowledge of the environment they are growing up in - a fast-pace technology-focussed environment where information is recieved faster, more frequently and from a wider range of sources than ever before: we also know that they have huge potential financial power, too. 

According to ‘The Power of Gen Z influence”, this generation is already on course to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020, accounting for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending in America alone. But their impact on the market doesn’t stop there. According to a report by CASSANDRA, a huge percentage (93%) of parents say their children have a say in a family and household purchases. 

And lets not forget that the previous generation, ‘Millennials’ (those born in the late 80’s to mid-90s’) are now the largest part of the workforce and have  hundreds of billions of dollars in purchasing power (reference). So it’s clear to see the attention of younger consumers is worth its weight in gold, if the marketers can capture it…

…So how do brands target the younger generation?

Everything starts with prolonging engagement and attention. Why is this so important? Remember Microsoft’s Goldfish study? Researchers at Microsoft found that a person’s average attention span stands at 8 seconds compared to the 9 commonly associated with the notoriously quick-to-forget goldfish. Due to fast-paced, digital world we live in, the attention spans of upcoming generations are getting shorter and there are no signs of this stopping. 

This means that it’s getting harder and harder for marketers to keep the attention of the younger consumer; they're simply doing more and absorbing more information and stimuli than ever before. So, how can brands earn a bigger share of their consumer's precious time?

Enter Gamification. 

Of course! Young people are almost synonymous with gaming right? So it’s no surprise that brands are starting to identify gamification as a means to capture and hold the attention of younger customers, increase brand awareness, improve engagement and, ultimately, improve sales and brand loyalty. It’s a no brainer. 

Did you know that according to recode, “seventy-three percent of people aged 2 to 20, known as Generation Z, have video game consoles, 7 percentage points more than the next-most-likely gamers, millennials.” With this in mind, it’s no surprise that addressing our human nature to compete, win and reap the rewards is a winning marketing strategy. 

Gamification simplified

Let’s be clear on what gamification is and what it is not. Gamification doesn’t have to be ‘a game.’ In reality, gamification involves taking the elements that make gaming so addictive (challenges and rewards) for younger audiences and working out how to apply those same principles to ‘non-game environments.’ This could well be through a game, but real gamification is all about the game mechanics. 


The effects of gamification are well suited to eCommerce environments. 

It’s no surprise that many eCommerce gamification examples we’ve seen have actively improved sales and conversions. There are endless studies to prove this. 


Nike uses Gamification to improve brand loyalty

If you’re looking for examples of gamification for online retailers, Nike (the American sportswear and apparel brand just in case you didn’t know) is surely the gold standard. Nike has been using gamification since way back in 2006 when they created their N+ App, designed to track your running distance and speed. Users can store data and easily monitor your progress over time. They could compete with friends and other Nike+ users, with stats posted on personal and national leader boards.  


Nike Winters Angry Campaign 

In 2011, Nike took the same ‘game mechanics’ and created their ‘Winter’s Angry, Fight Back, Campaign.’ The aim of this game was to show participants that they could keep training no matter how adverse the winter weather conditions are. Simultaneously, they wanted their ‘high school generation Z audience’ to engage and spend time with their products. 

So Nike created a live-action, online game where players had full control over Nike athletes- the main characters of the game. The aim of the game was to keep the athletes warm with a series of workouts. Players were given the opportunity to pick an athlete of their choice and put them through a series of winter training exercises. Through the user interface, each player could control their athlete avatar and scores were put on a leaderboard. The highest scores achieved between 9th and 15th December were then eligible to win a trip for two, to meet one of the Nike athletes.

To add to the excitement, the game also allowed users to purchase the Nike items. The online game drove awareness towards the launch of their new product line. 

It was reported that more than 2,100,000 users flocked to game to fight the winter. The game was even shortlisted in the Webby’s in Interactive Advertising.


Nike ‘Reactland’ Campaign

Fast-forward to 2018 and Nike have taken gamification to new heights with the ‘sneaker try-on-game.’

According to retaildive, Nike China and Wieden + Kennedy (an advertising agency in Shanghai), released a three-minute game that encourages customers to put Nike's ‘Epic React’ shoes to the test on a treadmill in stores around China.

Each customer could create an ‘avatar’ that lived in a virtual land called ‘Reactland’ where they could engage in all manner of activities including bounding on clouds and meeting pandas. 

Participants were also encouraged to share 10 seconds of their experience on social media, according to the report.

You can view the video here: 


How to employ ‘Game-mechanics’

What do all these campaigns have in common? They effectively employ game mechanics to capture and keep the players‘ attention.

So what ‘game mechanics’ do you need to employ with your content to achieve the results Nike has continuously achieved for over 12 years? We’ve compiled a list of game mechanics you’ll need to think about when ‘gamifying’ your online store. 

Game mechanics employed:

1. Challenge and competition

As humans, we’re all driven by the internal drive of making progress; developing skills; beating the competition and eventually overcoming challenges. 

Ecommerce examples: 

  • Competitions
  • Loyalty points schemes
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Quizzes

2. Empowerment of creativity and feedback

We love to use our creativity and freedom when trying to reach an end goal. If your content encourages users to use their strategic creativity and have to try a range of combinations in order to succeed, they’ll feel more satisfied. When players are congratulated for reaching a goal, they are usually encouraged to take the next step to a milestone or promote a new reward.

Ecommerce examples:

  • Becoming an exclusive ‘member’ and working towards the next level of membership.
  • Creating a game with different difficulty levels
  • Being entered into the next competition

3. Achievement, accomplishment and reward

 In the world of gaming, when players overcome these challenges, they’re usually rewarded for accomplishing tasks with badges or trophies, giving them a sense of self-achievement.

Ecommerce examples: 

  • Using loyalty / buying products
  • Exclusive offers and discounts after completing tasks
  • Prizes for winning competitions

4. Ownership and possession

We’re motivated by the need to own ‘things.’ Our motivation is increased when we do actually own the ‘thing’ we wanted. This causes us to then want to own even more ‘things.’ For example, gaming should allow users to accumulate wealth and exchange virtual currency for goods, both virtual and in real life. This, combined with the customisation of an avatar/ profile makes the player feel more attached to the game and/or character and focussed on the game’s purpose.

Ecommerce examples:

  • Avatars and customisable profiles
  • Ability to turn hard earned points into products
  • Social influence and relatedness


This is the same drive that encourages us to spend hours on social media, or want to have interaction with other people. Social aspects including; companionship, acceptance, envy, belongingness and competition, all motivate us. 

Ecommerce examples:

  • Leader boards
  • Sharing results on social media
  • Collaboration to achieve results (tag a friend campaigns)
  • Shopper of the month campaigns
  • Games / activities that reward best customers or those who have earned the most points.

5. Scarcity and impatience

Of course, we all want what we can’t have. Once again, it’s human nature. From a gaming perspective, if a player doesn't have enough coins to purchase what they want, they will play until they can afford it... and the cycle repeats when those coins are gone.

Ecommerce examples:

  • Time limited sales, competitions, quizzes, challenges and special offers.

At Reflect, we know the impact that gamification can have for business. Find out how we managed to attract over 90,000 visitors, achieve national coverage, increase account sign ups and engage users for an average of over 12 minutes with our Find50 Football game. Read the full gamification case study here.   


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