Loyalty Frameworks: Gamification
13 January 2023
Riley Cook

No one likes folding washing, buying groceries, or cleaning the house. Unfortunately, as adults, these are tasks that need to be completed. What can help though is turning each separate chore into a game. As Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You can find the fun and snap! The job’s a game”. The same can be done within a loyalty program, which is where gamification comes in.

What is Gamification

Gamification is the use of elements of gameplay in non-game contexts to stimulate specific behaviours. Loyalty programs are often described as gamification programs where members are motivated to complete specific tasks in non-game contexts. Some examples of game mechanics include:

  • Points – members can earn points for both transactional and non-transactional activities
  • Tiers – members can increase their engagement to climb tiers and receive better rewards
  • Collecting i.e., badges – members can earn/collect titles or badges through their engagement
  • Leader boards – the program highlights those that engage the most with the program
  • Exchanges – social sharing with other members and non-members
  • Customisation – encouraging members to invest in creating their profile
  • Feedback – progress tracking how a member is engaging
  • Randomness – elements where the member does not know an event will occur
  • Spectators and bosses – those who climb to the highest tiers

An important note is that this is different to loyalty programs that employ actual digital games such as Peach Airlines, TK Maxx and Boost Juice.

Does Gamification work?

The term gamification was first coined by games designer Nick Pelling. He launched a company in 2003 which focused on “applying game-like accelerated user interface design to make electronic transactions both enjoyable and fast”. Unfortunately, this vision came about in the wrong decade and the company closed shortly after in 2006. Since then, gamification has blossomed and has been employed by millions of companies worldwide to better improve their CX customer experience.

A literature review of 25 empirical studies by Hamari et al (2014) where the principal research question was ‘Does gamification work?’ found that the majority of the programs produced positive effects and benefits. Although most of the programs studied were for education and learning or for intra-organisational systems, there are still good learnings from this research.

There are many, many other research papers that have studied whether gamification works, and the resounding answer is yes. Everything from the marketing of gamification to the gamification models themselves with badges and leaders encourages engagement from customers with a program.

Program examples

Many programs use Gamification to increase enjoyment around the mechanics of a loyalty program. If you’re interested in learning more about how gamification can be used in loyalty programs, read some more of our blogs like:


The brands that are best known for the customer experience are those that employ gamification elements. Current research suggests that gamification is an excellent tool that brands can use to better engage their customers. Will gamification continue to expand and be used by companies and loyalty programs alike? This author thinks yes but only time will tell.


Hamari, J. Koivisto, J. & Sarsa, H., 2014, ‘Does Gamification Work? – A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification’, In proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, January 6-9, 2014.

Shelper, P 2020, Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide, Loyalty & Reward Co, Sydney.

<a href="https://loyaltyrewardco.com/author/riley/" target="_self">Riley Cook</a>

Riley Cook

Riley is a Strategy Consultant at Loyalty & Reward Co, the leading loyalty consulting firm. Loyalty & Reward Co design, implement, and operate the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands. Riley has previously worked in marketing and graphic design roles across various industries including not-for-profit, events and education. Riley applies her skills across all aspects of the business, including loyalty program design, data collection and analysis, loyalty strategy and customer experience development.

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