Gamification of Market Research Surveys – A New Wave or Failing Trend?

strategy and gamificationOver the past few months (and years) I have read various ‘Gamification’ articles as this trend is becoming more and more accepted as an approach to attain opinions and insights in the Market Research Industry. The objective of this blog entry isn’t to debunk or contest the ‘Gamification’ movement as much as to give a reality check and some food for thought to this growing trend.

Here at Carbonview Research, we have strived since our inception to create a more natural
approach with our survey instruments. Many attempt to classify that as ‘respondent engagement’ and for the edification of our clients it’s the best way to communicate this approach thus jump starting their understanding of our approach. We like to call it ‘creating the conversation’. The opinion of anyone is going to be more thoughtful if they feel they aren’t getting information pulled from them. Conversely, one would think that ‘Gamification’ would actually be right up our alley, not necessarily so. This blog entry hopefully gives some food for thought so you can make a more informed decision about these tactics as they apply to market research surveys.

So, the philosophy of ‘Gamification’ touts that when integrated into the survey experience gives a more enjoyable experience, richer data, and more thoughtful answers. A few points to these advantages to think about…


  • Real Life Behavior and Purchase Decisions isn’t a game: When thinking about purchasing any item over a certain amount, there is seriousness about the purchase, it’s not a game.
  • Lipstick on a Pig: Gamification needs to start with the design of the survey, it does not start with just putting a layer on top of what would normally be a Q/A approach
  • The never-ending ‘beginner’: People want to continue playing certain games to get better. This issue proves out great for the market research communities where the respondent can keep ‘score’ thus getting incentivized by higher skill, higher rewards. Where this approach falls short is when the survey approach only occurs once for that respondent. No one likes to be the ‘beginner’ in a game; we do so because it’s the path to relative success of the game.
  • Trending – This type of approach negates the idea of continuing a trend as it does completely change the survey instrument.

Just as our industry has accepted newer approaches in a very slow and methodical approach, this new approach is no different. Survey context doesn’t mimic the real life experience. Not all things are a game, or even fun. Our survey experience needs to replicate reality, even if the real life experience in that context is indistinct. I really don’t feel like playing a game about insurance or toilet paper, neither is optional nor fun to deal with, but we need to understand the insights on how to make them better.

My overall perspective on Gamification is that it has its place and looks like a relatively important innovation that needs appropriate due diligence (i.e. validation, RoR, etc.). More importantly, we need to understand the biases created with this approach. Until the RoR shows that the data is much more impactful and insightful we will do what we have been doing…creating the (insightful) conversation.

What’s your view on this subject?

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