How to gamify your research communities?

There is already so much research available with respect to using gamification in quantitative research, however a clear approach for online qualitative research is still lacking so far. Considering the high fit between research communities and gamification, we decided to focus on using gamification in our InSites Consulting communities. We identified 4 levels in an online community at which gamification can be applied to increase the data quality, participant engagement and impact on the client side. From a question level to a community level, gamification helps!

Gamification in research communities

1. The question level

Question levelOn the lowest level, the question level, we apply gamification by rephrasing the questions. For example, to understand what Generation Y considers the cool places in their city, we posted a challenge. Instead of asking them to list the cool venues and the reason why these places are cool, we challenged the participants to prove their city was the coolest. We told them that by the end of the week, based on their answers, our client, MTV would select the coolest city. This spurred elaborate reactions from our Gen Y participants who were fiercely defending their city.

2. The individual level

One level higher, the individual level, we introduce badges and levels. By answering to topics posted by the moderator, participants gain points. Depending on the quality of the post, participants gain more or less points. Additionally, participants collect badges by performing certain actions such as posting very creative replies on a specific topic, keeping specific topics alive and interactive,… Both the level and badges are visible on a person’s profile and participants can see this from others as well which stimulates achievement game dynamics, ie. becoming better and being better than others.
Examples of badges

3. The group level

On the third level is the group level. This level is not always applicable, as it requires having at least two different groups in the research. On this level, gamification can be applied by setting a challenge for both groups and then compare the result between the two. For example, in a research we did with R&D people from Unilever, we divided the entire R&D team up in different smaller groups. These groups could then compete to show who knows the consumer best. The winning team would then be the first to get access to new and exclusive content, namely new products in the pipeline. Another example of applying gamification on a group level would be from a community we did for Initial. We had participants from both the Netherlands and Belgium on the community, for three weeks. Between both countries there has always been a friendly rivalry. So during the community we organised a derby between both countries. Every day, the number of contributions would be counted and the country with most posts would score one point. The effect of this was a significant increase in posts by everybody and people encouraging each other to answer to the questions and take part in the game.

4. The community level

Finally, gamification can also be applied on a community level, where the complete group of participants is involved. Here we set challenges for the community such as completing a certain task by the end of the week or reaching a certain amount of posts in a certain time. Another example would be the ideation tool we use to find new insights. Here, the community searches and thinks together to come up with new ideas and solutions. Participants can upload ideas as an answer to a need or problem. Others can rate these ideas and comment on them to further improve them. This way the community works together on a need or problem that is close to their heart and is personally relevant.

Measuring the results

The results of applying gamification to MROCs are twofold.

1. Gamifying a community makes participants think harder

This entails several results. We receive seven times more on topic arguments compared to a non-gamified community. In addition, participants provide us with more context when answering, enabling us to better understand and frame their answers. Another consequence is that participants give emotional richer answers which allow us to understand them more completely. Additionally, in a gamified community, we get more creative answers.

2. A gamified community allows us to make people think differently

ChiquitaWhen people approach a topic from another perspective, we are again able to understand the topic more fully and come up with different insights. For example, for Chiquita we had to research the potential of a fruit smoothie with both people who eat healthy and people who eat less healthy and don’t eat fruit regularly. In a first phase, we explored the perception and attitudes towards eating healthy and eating fruit for both groups. In the second phase, we decided to apply gamification by having the groups switch roles in an activation deprivation exercise. The group of healthy eaters had to decrease their fruit consumption for one week and the group of unhealthy eaters had to eat a certain amount of fruit every day, for one week. Both groups then had to report from both perspectives, providing us in the end with a complete picture on why and why not people eat fruit.

Want to learn more on our gamification approach?

Read our paper Game on Qualitative researchers: Using gamification to increase participant engagement, data quality and client impact in Market Research Online Communities.

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