Gamify your product or service to drive user engagement

Many ideas fail in the marketplace, even if they come from leading innovators such as Google or Amazon. Consider using the market insight to ideate for everything around customer experience – packaging, delivery, pricing, support, and now gamification.

Early Market Engagement

Early market engagement is a strategic exchange of information with the market. You’ve built the minimum viable product (MVP) and ready to test with some early adopters or beta users. It is imperative to keep in mind that the product at this stage is just a bunch of ideas, assumptions and some data. It is pretty much all invention and creativity. Taking it to the market to create value for consumers and to generate revenue will potentially make it an innovation. You need to work through various aspects for it to be sticky in the marketplace. 

Consumers care how they receive products and services. The product delivery model includes, packing, shipping, handling, setup, training, etc. and all that happens between the product leaving the manufacturer/retailer and buyer using it. Service delivery is a lot about transactional experience, communication, ambiance, and handling of an unhappy customer.

Consumers have varied perception of value received. Business model is about setting the price, payment terms and billing, sell vs lease vs subscription, financing options, warranties, returns, trial period, bundling, and now mobile engagement…

Market positioning is making the customer think about your product through advertisements and social media. Naming and tag lines are probably the difficult ones but have significant impact.

Market testing is when the manufacturer/developer wants to get an early indication of how the product or service will be received and accepted by the end-user. It might include focus groups, beta tester, pilot programs, and even up to the first few customers providing feedback.

As an innovator, we must also think of how to support the product in service and at the end of its useful life. What are the possible business models, in terms of ability to service, recycle, salvage? …

Product Packaging to improve Consumer Engagement

Packaging is no longer just a box. Almost every consumer product invests heavily in innovation in packaging. There are so many examples of packaging innovation to capture market share. Toothpaste companies reduced vanity shelf space by making broad caps and going stand up mode. Pomegranate and lemon juice are packaged in bottles that look just like the fruit by shape and color to make it easily recognizable and to give the feel of the real thing. Plastic water bottles are shaped to reduce plastic materials and handling. Ketchup caps and nozzles were designed so that they do not drip.

The box for Amazon Kindle oasis and Google Pixel Buds double up as chargers.  Cardboard box for a 12-can-pack went from 4×3 to a 6×2 for ease of stacking in the refrigerator, and then a designer cut to create a dispenser. Many small electronic products use packaging to act as transportation, handling, shelf display, marketing, … purposes as well.

Service Delivery to enhance Customer Experience

The service industry is highly competitive as well. Coffee shops, aircraft interior, sports bars, amusement parks, holiday resorts, etc. go all out to make the experience memorable for you. They are all very innovative about creating customer experience through novelty, thrill, comfort, ambiance, security, safety, sanitization, etc. which are all of value to consumers.

Gamification to build Consumer and Employee Engagement

Think about how to turn your service or product into a game-like experience. It is easier said than done. In product design and development, we can focus on user needs and goals to deliver meaningful experiences people value. Every goal has a motivation, and the key is to develop ways to help motivate people to reach their goals. What better way to motivate people than in a way that is engaging, rewarding, grounded in behavioral science, and even a little bit of fun for them to learn, explore, and use? All the while continuously giving them reasons to engage with your product.

The five principles of gamification are …

principles of gamification
  1. Autonomy: Urge to direct our own lives (I want to control).
  2. Mastery: Desire to get better (I want to improve).
  3. Purpose: Yearning to be a part of something larger than ourselves (I want to make a difference).
  4. Progress:  Desire to see results associated with mastery and purpose (I want to achieve).
  5. Social Interaction:  Need to belong, be connected to, recognized by, and interact with others (I want to engage others).

Take eBay as a prime example. Buyers and sellers rate each other. The more they buy, sell, and accumulate good ratings on the platform, the higher they rank in the community. Their ranking is represented with status flair, i.e. Power Seller, Trusted Seller etc., on their profiles and listings to build marketplace prominence and garner buyer and seller confidence.

For more learning, read Innovation Value Chain

Where does innovation start – with an idea or a need?

The answer to this question is – you will never know. Innovation is an idea-need match making that happens at the subconscious level. At the conscious level, the innovator believes idea came first, while the entrepreneur goes after the need first. While both may have been in the subconscious for a while waiting for a trigger to connect the dots.

Fundamental Innovation Process

Innovation Value Chain can be described as a series of connected steps, which lead to an innovative product, service, process, or a business model. Successful outcomes typically require an innovator to make assumptions at each step, validate or challenge them at the next step, go back if required, continuously build upon new learnings, and iteratively closeout on the purpose.

Innovation Value Chain

Deep Market Place Insight

The first major step in a structured innovation process is to define the need – a problem worth solving (customer insight) and the complimentary step is to see what already exists or is in works to solve the problem you have identified (competitor insight). At times you may need to address the regulatory hurdles as well.

Structured Ideation

This is the most creative and elusive step of the innovation, and generally, the source of the myth that you cannot teach innovation, or innovators are born. Ideation may not be science, but it is certainly not magic. It is probably an art, and sustained practice gets you to a state of mind that is continuously generating great ideas. Experience has shown that the ideas are not a random occurrence, but rather triggered by some form of an intellectual stimulus. This implies that we can create a stimulating environment or an exercise to generate hundreds of ideas. Quite often, an ideation session can lead to new markets, in addition to serving a specific pre-defined objective.

Market needs and Ideas can be iteratively refined once you realize and start to pursue the opportunity. In some sense, an innovator comes up with an idea, may see or create the need, that consumers may not yet see. An entrepreneur looks for market need/opportunity and figures out how to creatively meet it. I believe that it is a cognitive and elusive step, that artists can understand.

Purposeful Qualification

After a couple of iterations between marketplace problem and solution ideas, you will get to the stage of assessment of their worth. At this point, you must ask these three questions before investing any resources.

(1) Value Proposition: Does it add value to a customer/user/consumer?

(2) Purpose & Ethics Check: Does it fit your self-defined purpose and self-imposed ethical standards, in addition to being legally compliant? And

(3) Concept Qualification: Can you deliver it profitably, to sustain or grow your own business?

These steps will be iterative, more often than desired. It takes a bit of practice to get good at it.

Creative Execution

This is where you convert a qualified concept into reality. Most organizations and teams have a project management and gated process to mitigate execution risk. The ability to learn and adapt is still the key to successful innovation. Balanced portfolio approach can provide both stability and growth.

Alternatively – ISO 56002

ISO 56002:2019 Innovation Management System Guidance defines these 5 steps-

  1. Identify Opportunities
  2. Create Concepts
  3. Validate Concepts
  4. Develop Solutions
  5. Deploy Solutions

If you are interested in learning more about this process, please register for a free conversation with the author of the book on “Inspiring Next Innovation Value Chain”.

Buy Inspiring Next series Volume 2 – Innovation Value chain on Amazon.

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