We’re experimenting on our children (again) in the name of loyalty research.
11 November 2018
Philip Shelper


Loyalty & Reward Co are big supporters of the scientific method in determining new approaches to drive member engagement for loyalty and rewards programs.

Since some of us have had children we’ve been delighted by our sudden easy access to subjects to participate in our experiments, particularly in testing our hypothesis that if you can persuade children to do something then there’s a high likelihood it’ll work on adult consumers, who for the most part appear to be bigger, dumber versions.

Our latest experimental rewards program has shown significant results in generating compliant behaviour among belligerent children using ice-cream sticks as a tokenised reward currency.

The subjects were two human males aged five (Subject A) and seven (Subject B) who were selected based on a lengthy track record of social disobedience and an extreme mental resistance to basic compliance tasks such as getting dressed, eating their breakfast and cleaning their teeth when it’s time to get ready for school even though they’ve been asked several times already and other children all around the world do it every day without any fuss so why can’t they and please stop tormenting the cats.

The experiments subjects displaying tokens they have won. Their Minion-themed pajamas are a classic uniform of rebellious, anti-establishment children.

Over a period of months the subjects were slowly introduced to playing video games on Dad’s iPad until such time as addictive behaviour signals began to manifest. One positive indicator was when Subject B said, ‘My dream is to be a teenager because they spend all their time playing on their phones.’

The subjects were then introduced to the tokenised rewards program. This commenced with them being provided with a number of ice-cream sticks and red and blue textas. The subjects were asked to colour half of the ice-cream sticks in blue and the other half in red. Blue sticks were assigned a value of ten minutes of game time and red sticks were assigned a value of five minutes of game time.

The subjects were advised that video game access would no longer be provided for free, but would require the payment of a red or blue token. In order to earn the tokens, the subjects needed to perform simple tasks willingly and without whingeing, shouting, throwing things, procrastinating, swearing, spitting or making fart noises. A major task earn a blue stick and a minor task a red stick.

The experiment was run for a 6 week period. During that time the subject’s compliance behaviour was measured and compared against behaviour prior to the trial commencement.

The results showed successful behaviour modification using the tokenised rewards approach. The ‘getting dressed’ rating increased from 0% to 87%, ‘eating breakfast’ rating increased from 2% to 67% and ‘cleaning teeth’ rating increased from -36% to 93% (with an average scrubbing time increase from 4 seconds to 6 seconds). Cat torturing activities also showed a substantial decline.

Further experiments were conducted on the spending of tokens to ascertain whether the subjects had accurate time perception. While spending a blue stick officially provided ten minutes of game time, in all instances the timer was set to seven minutes (‘evil scientist laugh’).  Despite a 30% reduction in time, the subjects displayed no awareness that their time was reduced. This provides insight that consumers can be effectively short-changed on time-based rewards without negative repercussions to the brand.

The subjects show indicative signs of mental impact as a result of exposure to video games. Subject B played Plants vs Zombies for his game and reported, ‘I had a dream where I was an apple and I was shooting apple cores at the zombies and killing them. Everyone else in my team died but I survived. It was awesome!’

The subjects have also displayed some evidence of increased intelligence. Subject A reported, ‘I just realised you can’t carry yourself. It’s true. You can’t. Because if you lift yourself up by your bum, your legs will be in the air, and so you won’t be able to walk. It’s true. You actually can’t carry yourself, Daddy.’

Future iterations of this experiment will include hosting the tokens on the blockchain to enable greater fungibility of the currency to drive improvements in subject satisfaction.


Philip Shelper is a loyalty management consultant based in Sydney, Australia who obsesses about everything to do with loyalty and rewards. His company Loyalty & Reward Co are a leading loyalty consulting firm.

Phil is the author of Blockchain Loyalty: Disrupting loyalty and reinventing marketing using cryptocurrencies. Buy the book.

Visit www.blockchainloyalty.io, a global resource centre for everything blockchain loyalty.

Let’s connect!

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philipshelper

Twitter: @phil_shelper

<a href="https://loyaltyrewardco.com/author/philip/" target="_self">Philip Shelper</a>

Philip Shelper

Phil is the CEO & Founder of 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. Phil had previously worked in loyalty roles at Qantas Frequent Flyer and Vodafone. Phil is a member of several hundred loyalty programs, and a researcher of loyalty psychology and loyalty history, all of which he uses to understand the essential dynamics of what makes a successful loyalty program. Phil is the author of ‘Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide’, the most comprehensive book on loyalty programs on the planet.

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