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Gaming lessons for behaviour change
United KingdomGamificationBehavioural research
Games are wildly popular, but techniques that inform them can be a powerful way to adapt users’ habits within the service; new research showing how gamification can encourage active travel holds important lessons for advertising as questions of sustainability come to the core of business.
People need to drive less if the world is to take on climate change, with short trips that could be replaced with a short walk or other forms of active travel at the heart.
Why it matters
It’s not just local authorities – like London’s Hounslow, where the research took place – businesses are expected to take a lead in the fight against climate change.
Increasingly, businesses don’t just have to look at direct and indirect emissions, but at all the emissions up and down the value chain – these are known as Scope 3 emissions – which include the impact of your customers as they use your brand’s product.
Scope 3 is the area of greatest climate impact, and yet so much of it comes from activities out of your hands. Understanding how to encourage new, sustainable behaviours in both customers and suppliers will become increasingly important to business operations and, critically, to the marketing department.
What to know
Highlighted in Ars Technica, participants in the study could earn points by tapping a card on physical boxes distributed around the borough with prizes for those walking, cycling, or using any other non-motorised form of transport. The researchers also used traffic cameras to measure the impact on traffic.
The results of the Cardiff Metropolitan University study into the effectiveness of a gaming initiative run in the western London borough of Hounslow indicate:
The proportion of participants who reported being physically inactive (less than 30 mins of physical activity per week) decreased from 25% pre-game to 18%.
The proportion hitting the World Health Organisation’s optimal target of 150 minutes grew from 62% pre-game to 75%.
Not only did people move more, but the initiative led to a 53% reduction in both cars and vans in the area studied.
Loyalty cards have been part of the CRM arsenal, with contactless cards now mainstream are there opportunities to encourage movement.
Cars are items of great prestige to their owners that become a habit, are there opportunities to encourage the right behaviours and for business to assist its customers to this end, rather than criticising many people’s way of life? Are there opportunities to combine?
Experience is increasingly important to agencies’ strategic offer, and with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals now in investors’ sights, there is ample opportunity to take forward these behavioural ideas into new areas.