Interview: How To Combine Gamification Elements With Personalization To Trigger Consumer Interaction With Your Brand

We caught up with Rob Fagnani, Head of Business Development,, to find out how retail brands use apps to engage with their audiences.


Can you tell us about and what they currently do for their clients?

  • Formation makes it faster and easier for enterprises to build, manage and optimize billions of innovative and uniquely personalized offer experiences that are delivered through their existing marketing platforms and channels. Our AI-powered solution automatically generates and optimizes millions of offers, making every offer experience unique, relevant, and meaningful. Last year, we sent over 2 billion unique offers. We work with some of the world’s largest brands, like Starbucks and United Airlines to drive impressive results: 3x additional revenue per offer, 3x increase in marketing ROI and 10x increase in campaign execution speed.

Ever since COVID-19 hit early last year, consumers have turned to digital platforms as their primary and preferred way to engage with the world. Mobile shoppers are popular now more than ever. How can retail brands use apps to engage with their audiences?

  • While consumers want the best offers and rewards based on basic personal data, there’s evidently a disconnect in how well brands are actually meeting these needs. There’s no doubt that the brands with the best offers and rewards will stand out against competitors and foster greater brand loyalty. Within mobile apps, brands can leverage AI to create a fully-unified customer experience that individualizes messages, content, and offers to each individual. Through machine learning, brands can test different types of messaging, content, and offers to learn and optimize what’s most effective for each individual customer.

How can brands help consumers become active participants in the market through Formation's solution?

  • Our recent study found that 81% of shoppers are willing to share basic personal information in exchange for a personalized experience. Using AI, brands can do just that. With a more personalized experience for consumers, the gateway opens for them to become advocates for the brand. Using the Formation platform, brands can engage customers with individualized offers and optimize those offers to increase the efficacy over time.


Can you explain how offers and rewards evolved with the post-pandemic consumer, creating effective and satisfying deals for every party involved?

  • The pandemic threw a wrench in traditional segmentation models that rely on recency, frequency, and spend to measure customer engagement and determine the offers that customers receive. This has left many companies exposed without the technology that helps them understand changes in consumer behavior and respond to it in the form of personalized communications and offers. Consequently, we have seen many companies rethink and re-tune their value propositions for their customers and leverage technology to engage with each individual customer in a way that’s relevant to them. For example, customers with similar demographics and spending patterns that used to receive the same discount offer will start receiving different offers as more data is leveraged to form greater context about each customer and their respective needs.


In the highly competitive digital world, brands need to fight for customers’ attention. Personalized commerce is trendy, but can you explain a bit more about the strategies that Formation uses that make brands successful?

  • Customers crave relevance, and the path to relevant offers for customers comes from (1) leveraging insights about that individual and (2) doing so in a timely manner. Today, marketers seek to activate their data and insights to provide personal and relevant offer experiences but often cannot execute campaigns in a timely manner due to the manual steps required to send significant variations of an offer. Formation addresses these challenges with a dynamic solution that automates the build, delivery, fulfillment, and measurement of a full range of innovative, individualized offer experiences. This can look like simple coupons to complex multi-step games, all delivered through a company’s existing marketing platforms and channels. Customers’ behaviors and needs are constantly changing. Brands need to be able to take that uncertainty and turn it into action through experimentation. Formation’s dynamic offer building and experimentation enable those brands to test, track and then measure millions of offer variations in real-time. 


Can you outline what Nike’s done right by utilizing offers and rewards and how other brands can learn from the digital-first strategy?

  • Nike knows that nontraditional rewards and offers are the way of the future, helping consumers move from engaging with the brand to becoming active participants. Nike’s exclusive early product drop is a strategy more retailers and brands will lean on as simple discounts become outdated and consumers seek more meaningful rewards. If offers and rewards benefit the consumer and the brand, it’s a true win-win scenario. Brands can utilize personalization strategies, especially during a pandemic, to ensure that their platform provides a mix of branded content, personalized commerce, and a range of activities. Nike clearly executed their digital-first strategies well, adding over 70 million members to their loyalty program over the last year and growing their digital revenue by 84% by the end of November 2020 despite store closings and limited physical store occupancy.

One really interesting trend is that consumers seek entertainment when they do their shopping (1 in 4 (25%) regularly tune into video shopping channels like QVC or HSN). Physical shopping is a group (fun) activity; digital commerce is not. Video shopping is the latest trend. How will personalized offers be even more relevant with the rise of trends like these?

  • By using gamification elements with personalization, brands can trigger different motivational outcomes, facilitate fun interactions and build relationships. In turn, these relationships can deepen consumer-brand engagement, sustain loyalty while pressing consumers’ behavior to meet brand goals, and potentially attract and onboard new customers. By motivating your customer, you increase engagement. You draw consumers in with a fun activity, and they can learn more about your brand than if they were to simply visit your website. Gamification can raise engagement and loyalty by an average of 30% when you consider the time spent on site, repeat visits, and viral distribution. Gamification also improves ROI, especially when games are individualized to the customer.