Conversation Design and the Gamification of Market Research
Conversation Design driven by gamification insights

Conversation Design and the Gamification of Market Research

Conversation Design is becoming more important

One of the main challenges in Market Research has always been to get the best (most reliable) answers from respondents. At SPARC, we see a growing demand from our clients to create surveys based on Conversation Design principles. Over the last years the notion of integrating ‘gamification’ with Market Research research has been slowly gaining traction. With the topic of Conversation Design, often (elements of) gamification are automatically assumed by our clients. However, this is not as self evident as it sometimes seems.

The Role of Gamification

Gamification is defined as the use of game design and mechanics in non-gaming contexts. It has been on the rise in terms of applications. It hasn’t proven to be the game changer a lot of people predicted it to be. Though there are many public examples of what it means to successfully infuse games into something different. Some of those examples include FoursquareBadgeville and Bunchball. All companies that have been providing turnkey solutions for common game mechanics in a variety of industries.

Who’s taking the lead?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many publicly discussed case studies that apply to Market Research or Conversation Design. Most of the discussions have focused on either validating or refuting the scientific legitimacy of research gamification. Others have focused on building support for this young and developing space. This is somewhat surprising as various surveys reveal that over 60% of market researchers and companies specialised in Conversation Design are either using or considering gamification to support Market Research.

The gap between interest and action seems to be driven by two major barriers:

  1. From the client side, a lack of knowledge and insufficient proof that it works; and
  2. From the supplier side, a lack of knowledge and insufficient proof that it works.

In other words, it sounds like a great concept, but hasn’t yet passed the smell test for established agencies to invest in refining the methodology. The obvious confidentiality constraints between supplier and client, and the desire to build competitive advantage against other suppliers, are secondary issues. Gamification and Market Research are still far from being top of mind for many in the industry. Interestingly, the industry’s current research services directories do not even contain headings for gamification.

A wider application of gamification

This is a shame, but not altogether surprising. Like most new technologies, we first attempt to enhance existing products and behaviours by bolting on the new thing. Time and experience teach us the distinctive characteristics of the New Thing. We eventually realize that truly New Things require new behaviours and assumptions. So it goes with gamification. For the most part, researchers look at online surveys as the vehicle that can most benefit from games. Improve engagement, reduce respondent fatigue, perhaps even lower overall cost by improving survey completion rates. These things may be true, but it is not the only way to think about games.

Building case studies

Games and stories go hand in hand. They are almost always driven by a back story (even a simplistic one). The idea is that games channel human behaviour into structured rules. The information we can collect from a game is not limited to just the outcome of who won or lost. In some cases, the act of participating in a game creates more value for a research audience than observing a game. All of this is moot, of course, unless we continue to experiment and refine these techniques.

Let’s team up to create a Gamified SPARC!

SPARC has recently combined Conversation Design with Gamification elements. Our first learnings and hands on experiences do strengthen our idea gamification will continue to become more important in our field of work. We hope to be able to share a case study on the approach soon! And hopefully ‘sparc’ your interest to partner up with us to see what gamification can do for you!

With inputs from Jason Andersen