The human brain LOVES games! you might get tired from working for 3-4 hours straight, but as a child, or even as grown-ups for many people, when it came to playing that newly released game you've been waiting for, you could sit for four, five or even six straight hours playing it non-stop. You might forget to eat drink or even go to the bathroom.
Logically speaking, playing a video game and mastering it takes time, mental effort, setting strategy, focus and most of the time money. However, human beings have no problem putting all of these mental and physical resources into something they basically pay for. Why? Just because it's fun. The game feels good, even when we lose, we get even more excited to play again and improve.
Why are they so addictive?
The secret about games is that every good game is strategically engineered to activate the reward centers in the human brain consistently, and yes, even when you lose. The dopamine doses that your brain experiences during the game itself pushes it to get back up and try again and again until you get it right. The cycle of trials, wins and losses carry on till you pass all the levels and win the game.
At this point, you get back to the real world and realize that it's 4 AM in the morning and you're actually starving. That's how powerful games are. They play the chords of human psychology and the brain's reward centers in perfect harmony.
Using game design elements in eCommerce
What if you could use these same psychological principles that make games so addictive, in your online store's shopping experience? What if you could make your website visitors hooked to buying from your website just like they get hooked to video games, sports or their favorite hobbies?
It's not only possible, but there are many tried-and-true techniques for it. If you haven't heard about it before, it's called Gamification. Gamification is about infusing website's shopping experience with elements of game design to direct your customers' behavior in a certain direction. It's not a new trend, gamification principles are now used in countless domains, especially in eCommerce. Techniques like points, reward and leaderboards are very common in today's online stores. Here are two of texamples of eCommerce stores and websites that made use of gamification principles to maximize results.
2 Gamification principles for your eCommerce
- Set a goal, show progress and give rewards: having something that you strive to accomplish is a cornerstone in any game. Seeing yourself score progress and be more and more masterful every time you play the game plays on the core human drives for accomplishment and growth. Along with activating your brain's reward systems every time you're rewarded for getting this badge, unlocking that new game feature or getting to the next level.
In eCommerce, these psychological dynamics can be replicated through tiered VIP loyalty programs. It's a loyalty program that very much resembles games. The program has multiple tiers (or levels) for the members to advance through, each tier requires more effort to reach and its members enjoy more benefits as well. Just like the levels in video games. It creates a goal for the customers to engage and spend more on your website.
- Collect 'em all: This famous catch-phrase counts for millions of dollars in sales for the Pokemon brand. It seems that collecting is ingrained deep in the human psyche. Starting from the medieval human collecting food to ensure their survival all the way to the modern man collecting stamps, action figures and even coins. This can be used in many ways for eCommerce. You can do it through badges that tthe customer can collect when they spend a certain amount, shop more frequently,.....etc. Another brilliant application that we saw was Bonobos' scavenger hunt.
According to Ya-Kai Chou on his website he mentioned that In 2011, the men's apparel eCommerce Bonobos launch a digital scavenger hunt on NotCot and NotCouture website. Visitors would search the whole website to locate and click on specific images of models wearing Bonobos' new products. The first 50 people to find the images each day would recieve $25 in Bonobos credit plus free shipping on their orders. And as a special bonus, when a visitor spots the guy in paisley pants, he/she receives a $100 off their purchase. There are many other ways to utilize our collector's instinct in your store's favor. Get creative!