In today’s tough economy, small businesses have come up creative new ways to increase productivity and market share. Among the most creative new approaches to marketing is the use of gaming principles. New technologies have made it possible for small businesses to compete against the Goliaths of their industries.

To help market its award winning, all-natural popped potato chips to its target demographic audience, San Francisco-based Popchips has turned to video games. The company has teamed up with smartphone app company Kiip to offer virtual coupons for free bags of the upscale snacks on hundreds of mobile video games.

Kiip’s solution rewards gamers by offering them coupons whenever they advance to a new level or set a new high score, without interrupting the game.  Kiip CEO Brian Wong says the strategy is a very powerful one for building customer loyalty.

Popchips is but one of thousands of businesses, large and small, that have embraced “gamification” for a wide array of business goals, from improving productivity to increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Gamification spending by businesses could reach an estimated $242 million this year, and is expected to increase to $2.8 billion annually over the next four years according to Encinitas, California-based M2 Research.  Additionally,  Deloitte Consulting LLP recently named gamification as one of its Top Ten Technology Trends for 2012.”

An estimated 70% of the top 2,000 businesses in the world will be involved in gamification by 2014, and small businesses are also jumping on the band wagon according to Stamford, Connecticut-based technology research and analysis firm Gartner, Inc.

According to Popchips’ Senior VP of marketing Brain Pope, Kiip’s video gaming strategy was a perfect match for the company’s overall marketing approach and budget.  Pope said, “We will get a lot more mileage and impact out of our limited dollars than doing a lot of mass communication.”

Managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners Lars Leckie says gamification offers small businesses new opportunities as mobile usage increases. “Small businesses can actually interact with you in ways that would not have made sense in the desktop world,” says Leckie.

Popchips has seen a 40% increase in sales this year and could see its full-year sales rise above $100 million.

According to Deloitte’s Doug Palm, gamification will continue to influence how large and small organizations do business, and warns “A small tech company not using gamification might find themselves in a minority.”


Mike Snider. “Businesses use gaming principles in marketing”.  USA TODAY.  8/3/2012