How can brands engage Asian consumers more effectively? This is a question that marketers repeatedly ask themselves when striving to penetrate Asian markets.
Ambitious Asian brands are also scrutinizing this question to better understand how regional consumer trends are being adapted in individual markets. There is, of course, no simple answer. Asia is a vast and diverse continent. Different people respond to different emotional drivers in different ways.
But one marketing trend currently turning up the heat is gamification. Advances in interactive technology are enabling Asian marketers to empower consumers to personally participate in challenge-driven promotions.
The participative element is crucial. Gamification, like other emerging forms of marketing, such as live-streaming and social commerce, enables consumers to be active rather than passive players in campaigns. By taking part, consumers feel they are navigating their path through promotion, in a similar way to a computer game. This soothes concerns about simply being “sold to”.
As a result, game-inspired marketing is being adopted by brands ranging from digital banks, online marketplaces, ride-sharing, cosmetics, sportswear, and organic foods. Here are five factors to consider:
Integrating game-play elements into marketing campaigns is gaining momentum across Asia. The goal of gamification is to redefine personal engagement with a product through task-based challenges and lifestyle experiences. More brands introduced gamified promotions during pandemic lockdowns to drive interaction with consumers who were staying home more, visiting stores less, and purchasing more items online.
In Vietnam, for example, Heineken partnered with celebrity DJs Tiesto and Dmitri Vega for a House Party promotion activated via a QR-code on beer packs. Consumers could sip a beer in their lounge or bedroom, listen to specially curated soundtracks, and take part in a virtual DJing competition to win prizes, such as music streaming subscriptions.
Earning purchase-based points and rewards is not new. Airlines, hotels, and supermarkets have offered loyalty programs for many years. Mobile commerce is rebooting the genre. Lifestyle services apps and e-retailers entice shoppers with digital coupons, plus bonus rewards for selected products, and time-limited offers.
Milo in Vietnam, for example, introduced QR codes on the caps of its drinks. Each unique scannable code offers the chance to earn special rewards, which are claimed via the popular Zalo messaging app.
Encouraging consumers to stay vigilant for opportunities to earn extra benefits and privileges opens new points of engagement and generates new data streams for brands. While this may not be viewed as pure gamification, it fosters a buying culture around incentivization throughout the year. These tactics are hyper-charged during annual online shopping festivals when the race intensifies to earn big product discounts and rewards boosts.
Competitive and incentive-driven promotions aim to bolster consumer goodwill in saturated digital spaces, where eye-catching content constantly competes for attention. They also enable brands to thread individual gaming phases throughout various channels.
This means that distinctive parts of a campaign can drive engagement via a website, TV and digital ads, marketplaces, social media, content streaming, gaming platforms, in-store, and via co-branded promotions. Each element can be integrated using a QR code or hashtag.
Creative challenges founded online can also connect consumers in the physical world. Online retail, travel booking, automobile, and soft drink brands use app-based competitions to add extra fun and participation at sporting events, pop concerts, and roadshows. These drive engagements, create unique gamified moments, and attract media coverage. In turn, they generate proprietary streams of consumer data across each phase of the campaign.
Game-play promotions are customized for bespoke products and gifts themed around cultural festivals, such as Lunar New Year, Eid al-Fitr, Deepavali, and Christmas. Exclusive digital challenges offering access to extra discounts, product bundles, and rewards are also tailored for online shopping festivals, such 11.11 Singles Day or Shopee’s monthly Pay Day sale on the 25th of each month.
For Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, Kin Do mooncakes partnered with a specialist Artificial Intelligence firm in Vietnam to create an interactive app enabling consumers to animate old family photos. Users that uploaded photos could bring them to life on screen and share using a special hashtag for a chance to win limited-edition luxury mooncakes.
Rising smartphone penetration rates across Asia have broadened the user base for gamified marketers. This has occurred in tandem with surging interest in video gaming and e-sports, especially among Gen Z consumers.
Advances in AI and machine learning are ongoing, and the rollout of 5G networks and Internet of Things connectivity between humans, machines, and other interfaces, such as buildings, buses, and trains, prefaces otherworldly new frontiers for gamified interaction.
The hottest emerging topic, though, is the metaverse. For people who are comfortable transporting between multiple realities, metaverses offer the visual thrills of hyper-augmentation. In markets like South Korea, the pandemic has seen a big shift of people socializing, shopping, eating, and playing games on metaverse platforms.
Companies are being created to produce metaverse-only music and dance, role-playing, and gaming content targeted at youthful consumers. Creative firms are also building office-style mini metaverses to interact in gamified ways with customers, suppliers, and potential clients.