How game mechanics work in the consumer space

The concept of rewards from a consumer's perspective is an intriguing one.

The concept of rewards from a consumer's perspective is an intriguing one. Businesses leverage incentives and so-called "game mechanics" to encourage positive interactions and excite the desire to remain a loyal customer.

Regardless of how a business decides to employ customer rewards and incentives, it's important to recognize a few basics, namely what engages people and how. Don't think, as many often do, that it's a matter of getting something for nothing - this defies the age-old sentiment of working for one's own benefit.

"In the old view of things, we think, 'Well, if we do anything for our customers, we should just give them free stuff.' But free stuff is the old view," Gabe Zichermann, blogger and author of Game-Based Marketing, told Inc. magazine. "Now we know that status, access and power are both easier to give and reward customers better."

Just consider the American Express Centurion, that black metal card that serves more as a symbol of wealth and status than a practical financial product.

For retailers considering their own customer incentives, think about how specific rewards will affect their sense of status and confidence, as opposed to merely their budgets.