The popularity of mobile gaming for entertainment purposes has skyrocketed in recent years as improved technology and access to the internet has increased worldwide. Spending on mobile games reached USD 89.6 billion in 2021, representing an increase of 12.7% on 2020’s revenue. 

However, the rise in the industry’s market value is not the only consideration. The sector has also emerged as a powerful marketing and customer engagement platform. In Southeast Asia, almost 140 million people play mobile games, representing a vast potential audience for those wishing to market their products or services. With the widespread use of smartphones and the growing popularity of gaming apps, businesses, especially startups, should consider innovative ways to leverage them as marketing tools.

Mobile gaming vs console and pc gaming: A shift in industry dynamics and gaming trends in Southeast Asia

One such method is the incorporation of gamification for customer engagement into strategies to create brand awareness and drive business growth.

Gamification marketing

Integration of game mechanics and elements into non-game contexts can enhance user engagement and motivation. Known as gamification, this can include elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, and challenges, which are commonly found in games but applied to real-life scenarios such as marketing, education, and health. This approach makes the process more enjoyable and fosters a sense of accomplishment and progress, increasing customer engagement and driving customer acquisition.

One of the significant benefits of gamification marketing is its ability to build and strengthen brand loyalty. The rewarding nature of game-style features fosters a sense of achievement and progress, making customers feel valued and appreciated through earning points and badges or allowing them to unlock exclusive content. 

It enables customers to form a sense of attachment and emotional connection with the brand and increases social sharing, which is essential for expanding the brand’s visibility and reach. With users participating in the activities and earning rewards or achieving milestones, they’re often motivated to share their accomplishments with their friends and followers by word of mouth and on social media platforms, thus attracting more users. 

Using mobile gaming in marketing 

Customer engagement and brand loyalty are crucial for any business to achieve long-term success. Engaged customers are more likely to become repeat consumers and contribute to a positive brand reputation. Incorporating gamified elements into existing mobile apps or websites can enhance user experience and encourage active participation. 

Reward systems, leaderboards and challenges incentivise users to interact regularly with the app or website. For example, a fitness startup can gamify its workout app by offering virtual badges and rewards to users who complete certain milestones or challenges. 

Additionally, gathering user behaviour and preferences in-game provides businesses valuable insights for targeted marketing campaigns, also known as retargeting. By analysing the gameplay data and interactions within a game, startups can gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences, interests, and purchasing behaviours. 

For instance, a fashion startup can develop a mobile game that allows users to try different outfits and accessories virtually. By monitoring the choices made by players and tracking their preferences, the company can tailor its marketing efforts to offer personalised recommendations and promotions.

Gamification marketing success stories

Numerous renowned brands have successfully tapped into the power of gamification to engage their audiences, foster loyalty, and drive business growth. The Starbucks Rewards Program is a prime example. It uses a points-based system known as “Stars” to incentivise customers to make frequent purchases and engage with the brand. Customers earn Stars for every purchase they make at Starbucks, and they can redeem these Stars for free drinks, food items, or exclusive merchandise. 

The app also includes tiers, encouraging customers to purchase more to reach higher levels and unlock additional perks. As customers progress through the levels, they gain access to personalised offers, free refills, birthday rewards, and even invitations to exclusive events.

The Nike+ Run Club app also demonstrates the effective use of gamification marketing in the fitness industry. This popular app combines running and fitness tracking with game elements to create a highly engaging and motivating user experience. Users can set personal goals, earn achievement badges, and participate in challenges with friends or the broader Nike+ Run Club community by tracking their runs. Doing this fosters a sense of friendly competition and promotes the Nike brand to a broader audience.

Marketing using mobile gaming and gamification has emerged as a dynamic and effective strategy for businesses to drive customer engagement. By harnessing the addictive and immersive nature of gaming, companies can captivate their target audience and enhance brand loyalty. Whether it’s Nike+ inspiring fitness goals, or Starbucks Rewards fostering brand loyalty, these success stories highlight the immense potential of gamification for customer engagement. 

In Southeast Asia, more businesses should consider embracing this innovative approach. In an increasingly competitive market, the region’s substantial number of mobile gamers offers a fertile ground for growth.