If gamification applies elements of games to non-game contexts, then research gamification applies elements of games to market research projects. Here are some case studies illustrating how applying even one or two elements of a game to a research project improves the resulting research.

  • Time Limit – Games of football, basketball, and hockey all have time limits. Lightspeed GMI found that replacing a traditional unaided awareness question with one with a time limit actually increased the time spent on task. The question “We challenge you to try and remember as many ads that you can recall seeing in TV in the last month in the next 2 minutes” produced an average of 18 ads versus just 6 ads for the traditional question.
  • Score – Many games use scoring, and Lightspeed GMI found that adding scoring to an aided awareness task (matching a logo to the brand) improved time-on-task and increased the brand awareness results, producing more accurate measures.
  • Competition and Reward – A little competition never hurt anyone, right? So why not add it to a survey in order to increase the completion rate? One of our clients had a 127-question survey (don’t try that at home!) and were worried that not many customers would finish it. They wanted to add a new section on entertainment to the middle of the survey to sustain interest, even though they had no intention of using that data. Instead, we transformed an attitudinal battery into a fun quiz and asked consumers to finish the survey to see how they scored against the average and to get helpful tips about product usage. As a result, 81% of customers finished the survey.
  • Roleplaying – Roleplaying isn’t limited to Dungeons & Dragons; using it in market research is a great way to get more thorough answers. Fresh Intelligence let participants in a survey choose a role to take in a follow-on mobile exercise: they could be either “Marketing VPs” photographing tortilla chips in store or “Aliens” documenting how humans eat tortilla chips. The “VPs” found that Tostito’s competitors were featured in the deli and produce aisles and were therefore thought to be healthier, while “Aliens” found that other brands of chips were consumed with a wide variety of toppings yet Tostitos were associated with only salsa. On a smaller scale, simply giving someone an open-ended question worded with roleplaying consistently produced a greater quantity of feedback than the standard open-ended question (e.g., from SSI, “Imagine you meet the CEO of BRAND X in a lift. You have just a few moments with them. What are the three things you would say about the service you receive from BRAND X?”)
  • Teams – The Name Dropper game in the Pryz Manor, a free Android game from Upfront Analytics, has two players work together as a team. One respondent knows the brand and has to get the other to guess it as quickly as possible using common attributes (e.g., “hipster”, “bland”, “expensive”). More powerful clues burn the clock faster. The game nicely leverages behavioral economics, as players are trying to use the terms that they think will trigger the brand in their partner.

Too often gamification is presented as something difficult or expensive to do. But you can start by easily incorporating one or two elements of games into your research projects. For quantitative studies, try different question wording for verbatim questions; for qualitative studies, try adding game elements to projective techniques. For even more, check out Jon Puleston’s blog, Question Science.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.