What The S&H Green Stamps Model Teaches Us About Gamification
As kids, we loved games. They taught us lessons, encouraged us to improve, adapt and overcome. We also learned how fun it is to be on winning teams and how powerful combining skills with others can be! In actuality, games and gamification (turning tasks into games) permeated most of our lives growing up.
Whether within a sporting context or in the classroom, competition with teams or as individuals has always been a valuable way to encourage the best in ourselves and others, enjoy life, and gain the approval and admiration of others that we all desire (even if we don’t always admit that we do).
Just as we’ve always incorporated games into our personal and academic lives, companies have used the idea of gamification to engage and attract customers for a long time.
Remember S&H Green Stamps – the rewards program run by Sperry & Hutchinson?
If you do, and you participated in using them, then you were actively involved with corporate driven gamification.
The S&H Green Stamp gamification program was massive, widespread, and it involved convenience shops, gasoline stations, and department stores with one goal in mind: to drive traffic into the stores where green stamps were sold.
But the stamps weren’t the important thing.
What was most important were the feelings of achievement, realized hopes, competitive spirit, and the feeling of community the stamps brought about. I mean come on! Proudly saying that you had X number of completed S&H Green Stamp books was something!
Yeah, you could then go buy from the Green Stamps Catalog (a radio, a sofa, even a refrigerator). But a non-tangible, and I would argue more important aspect of the S&H Green Stamp gamification program was the social pride many consumers felt simply by achieving “levels” - or leveling up!
Gamification Is As Much About Social Status as It Is Rewards
Today, the S&H Green Stamps gamification program has – after a hiatus - moved online and is now called S&H Green Points. In this form, the program has not achieved the mass level of appeal and cultural adoption it held years ago. In its place, the groups across the globe have gravitated to online gamification models that do what the S&H Green Stamps program was so good at doing:
Using gamification to give people a sense of accomplishment, heightened status among their peers, and exclusive access to features to which other users have yet to gain access.
Gamification a multi-sensory experience really… as it strokes various sides of our Egos.
Without taking you too far down the rabbit hole… I want to be sure you are really getting the concept of gamification and what it means for and can do for pretty much any type of consumer/user experience across all products, brands, and industries.
So What Did We Just Learn About Gamification?
We learned that websites like the 007 one discussed above and games like Angry Birds, Mafia Wars, and Farmville publicly applaud, reward, and promote achievement to the point where users continue to invite and involve friends in what they’re doing. The core of the gamification concept lies in keeping people coming back to a site or location again and again.
Please share what they achieve! I mean, no one wants to achieve in a vacuum, right? We crave attention and acclaim when we do well… and this is where the viral nature of what gamification comes into play.
If you have ever helped out… or even cursed… when receiving a notice to help someone buy a barn, or fill a mafia soldier recruitment quota… you know exactly how ubiquitous and far reaching games on the social graph can be. I mean people are pleading for you to join them in a virtual world where together you can help foster fictional story lines that amuse you, entertain you, and in some cases — as in where some punk moves in on your turf… enrage you.
In cases where users are willing to exchange cash for time and effort… wallets have opened up and purchased numerous pieces of equipment, weapons, or achievement levels all for the purpose of an increased sense of personal satisfaction, achievement, and pride.
In the end, companies that employ gamification do so to increase customer loyalty to the brand thus increasing their profits. To think otherwise is naive. Hey – I’m not knocking the use of gamification to increase company profits. In fact, I love and admire the idea in nearly all of its past, present, and I’m sure… future forms.
But What If Gamification Paid Actual Dollars?
Right? I mean stay with me here. What if we introduced a profit sharing model into the mix… one where end users could count on some actual cash in their pockets in exchange for their loyalty, their sharing, their promotion?
Have you ever wondered how cool it would be if end users were able to add a financial gains component to the existing “feel good” or “freebie winning” aspect of today’s existing gamification model?
I mean how much more would people buy into and promote a brand and its related gamification model if they knew that they’d be able to add money earned (real money not virtual tokens) to the equation? I say we’d be taking the current fanaticism of gamification to a whole new level of drive, dedication, and determination.
If this last bit interests you at all… there is a movement afoot that may in weeks and months to come bring this version of the gamification model to the forefront.
I invite you to become part of the Rippln Mobile App Customer Acquistion Movement! Exciting things are upon us and now is the time to begin to build your Ripple! Are you ready?
We’ll be in touch with you soon to see if you are in the right position to help us realize this transformation in gamification. There was a day that the number of S&H Green Stamps printed in a year tripled the number of stamps produced by the US Postal Service.
Think about what today’s Internet and Mobile Technologies can do to create a similar if not more impacting result on a global scale.
We’re excited. And we think you will be, too. Find out more here.