The “Gamer” Strategy - Marketing one point at a time

February 10, 2015

There are many activities that I do not always enjoy, or do not always actively engage in. Either they’re routine or just not my thing. This got me thinking to how marketers are continuously striving to better engage with their audiences and encourage longer and more fruitful interactions. One thing I’ve learned about currently active brands: It’s all in the experience.

Augment reality with real-time virtual interaction
While augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) software is still underutilized in retail, the entertainment industry has been refining the technology for years now. Systems like the Oculus Rift and Google Glass are the better-known representatives of what AR and VR can do.

Stores like American Apparel have already made great strides in in-store digital interactions with their Vuforia app, to allow shoppers to view products and get more info on each apparel item. Ikea also has their own AR app, to allow users to see if a product would fit in the desired room. Even cosmetic companies, like Shiseido, provide similar digital interactivity, to show how different products will work on individual customers.

Going beyond what’s already out there, having the ability to custom size a model to my measurements and see previews of clothing on the model would be fantastic — both just online and with the ability to scan at the store and use an app to preview. This would be great during holiday seasons, when changing rooms aren’t always easily usable. And if you have the necessary measurements, you could better gauge whether or not the clothing would fit.

There’s an omelet’s worth of Easter egg opportunities out there
“Easter eggs” are more than just an edible treat during a holiday; game publishers have used the term to define hidden content and info in their products for decades now. Similar to how AR can upgrade the retail experience, providing Easter egg content amidst products and stores is a fascinating way to engage with some consumers.

There’s an impending wave of part augmented reality / part upgraded interactivity in current technology when it comes to e-books and other digital content. I’ve seen companies at Book Expo America demonstrate enhanced e-reader software to allow authors and publishers to add “Easter egg” type information within books. If you tap on certain words or phrases, you can get information on a character, get insight from the author as to how plot points were developed, and more. Akin to a director’s commentary, really.

I’ve seen others create educational books, with AR functionality to see and interact with extra content. Having a textbook with Easter egg info and AR functionality would be well worth the investment in my opinion. With three college degrees on my wall, I would have definitely appreciated interactive content in some of the more information-dense texts.

While I use my kindle sparingly, certain references or characters regularly fascinate me. Having embedded info I can pull up on a whim would definitely get me to trim down my digital reading pile and result in more reviews and recommendations.

Level up your accounts for chronic reward accumulators
Most people end up with rewards cards from various retailers. Be it your market, coffee shop, bookstore or apparel retailer. The more you buy, the more points you get towards some form of discount or other incentive. While I still have a small stack of physical reward cards for the smaller retailers and indie places I frequent (Molten Java still has the best coffee in the county, hands down), with the prevalence of smart phones there’s now countless apps that do the exact same thing as a rewards card.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have provided apps for a while now, to provide digital methods for making purchases and tracking rewards. Same for other large chains, from Stop & Shop, to AMC Cinema to Staples, they’re all offering ways to track rewards points, and get notifications on current sale items and promotions.

One style of reward tracking I haven’t seen utilized is the Trivial Pursuit style of points accumulation. Take theaters, you get points per movie seen, but bonus points if you see a certain amount of different genres. I know I’d be more interested in catching a wider diversity of movies, if it’d count towards a discount at the concession stand.

I’ve been slow to adapt to the augmented reality software and services, but I have no qualms about piling up with rewards programs. And I’m hoping the extended content within e-books and other media will become more prevalent and integrated over the next few years.

How have brands engaged with you in new and different ways? Are you one to use smart phone apps and rewards cards wherever you go? Do you engage with the augmented reality and added content brands are providing?

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