Gamification and Mobile Customer Loyalty Applications

This article, and the thesis itself, discuss an interesting angle when it comes to getting your message across to customers. The concept of gamification in combination with mobile applications sounds like an attractive concept. Customers of today are increasingly looking for experiences and activities, and what could be better for a company than building its message into a game-like mobile experience? It is not only companies that should think along these lines, but even teaching could also benefit from creating learning paths, which would resemble game plans and thus increase the motivation to study and learn. Perhaps something to reflect on if you are reading this as a teacher.

TEXT | Yana Dobretsova and Kenneth Norrgård


Over the course of the last four decades, the world has witnessed the rise of both gamification and customer loyalty programs. Both are largely prevalent in the field of business, they are instrumental tools in the marketing strategies of many companies looking to increase customer engagement, loyalty, motivation, and brand awareness. The concepts discussed in this article are some of the core concepts upon which the theoretical thesis research by Yana Dobretsova on “Implementation of a User Interface System for a Gamified Mobile Application” is based on. 

Gamification Approaches

Gamification turns the everyday interactions of customers into experiences that serve the purposes of businesses using game-like elements in non-game contexts. Companies are utilizing gamification more and more to ensure that the services, products, and applications the customer interacts with are as fun, motivating, and engaging as possible. According to previous estimations, more than 50% of organizations will have gamified various aspects of their business by 2015. (Hamari, Koivisto & Sarsa, 2014)

Gamification is an effective way of increasing the activity of users and promoting social interaction, contributing to enhancing positive patterns in the usage of services and supporting the engagement of users as “gameful” experiences happen. Those “gameful” experiences are rooted in positive and intrinsically motivating game elements implemented into a product or a service. (Hamari et al., 2014)

Gamification uses similar motivational elements and replicates the same experiences psychologically as regular games do (Hamari et al., 2014). Game-like motivational elements often come in the forms of point systems, leaderboards, achievements or badges, levels, stories or themes, clear goals, feedback, rewards, progress, and challenges. The psychological experiences often invoked by gamified approaches are, among others, a sense of autonomy and control, mastery and achievement, social interaction, and competition, as well as immersion and flow.

When discussing gamification in the context of marketing, one of the most prominent applications of gamified approaches is customer loyalty programs.    

Loyalty Programs and Applications

A customer loyalty program (or a reward program) is a type of marketing strategy with a focus on extending the lifetime value of the current consumers. This is achieved by having a prolonged interactive relationship that rewards frequent customers for their loyalty. (Mohammadi, 2020)

In the 1990s, companies worldwide started to realize that retaining existing customers is more cost-efficient than acquiring new ones, as a result prompting the rapid rise and wide usage of loyalty or frequent customer programs. Nowadays, the loyalty of the customers is instrumental in marketing as loyal customers usually develop a lesser sensitivity to prices and resistance towards the offers of the competitors, which in turn makes them more profitable. (Mohammadi, 2020)

Loyalty programs are presented on the market in many various forms. The most common ones include frequency reward programs (bonus cards or frequent flyer programs), cashback rewards, punch or stamp cards, and multi-tier rewards (Mohammadi, 2020). That being said, as technology progresses, the marketing strategies of companies improve and progress, too. Nowadays, the more widely used alternative to traditional loyalty programs lives in the phones of customers.

Mobile loyalty applications allow consumers to always have their “loyalty card” easily accessible via their smartphones on the go. Aside from the goals of accessibility and ease of use, the reasons for companies to implement mobile loyalty applications also include the desire to retain customers, improve their engagement, and promote positive motivating interactions with the brand. Those requirements for many companies result in perfect conditions to use mobile gamified applications to reach their marketing goals.


As the world progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that the most noticeable tendency in the development approaches of all companies is competition for the attention of the customer. This is why brands prioritize the loyalty of their customers in their marketing strategies as it contributes massively to reaching that goal, strengthening their position in the market, and subsequently succeeding. Mobile applications are instrumental in reaching customers wherever they are and providing them with an easy and positive way to engage with the company while rewarding them for that interaction. The usage of game elements and the adoption of mobile applications as ways of integrating gamified customer loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular with brands and enterprises worldwide, and this topic is worth discussing in the context of mobile software development and game development overall.

  • Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. 2014. "Does Gamification Work? -- A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification," 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, USA, pp. 3025-3034,

  • Mohammadi, S. 2020. Gamification as a motivational tool: Extending Loyalty Programs with Gamification.

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