In Singapore, brands make play for gamification

PlayTMN hopes to change the way brands operate.
PlayTMN hopes to change the way brands operate.

Touchscreens are cropping up in supermarkets and department stores as brands create in-store experiences

SINGAPORE — More snazzy-looking touchscreens are likely to make their way to supermarkets and department stores here as more brands start to experiment with gamified experiences.

Singapore-based PlayTMN has run a number of campaigns for FMCG giants Unilever, Colgate, Heineken and Mondelez.

Founder Julian Corbett says gamified experiences change the way brands operate. Corbett claims that PlayTMN delivers 15 engagements per 100 store transactions. An average of eight displays delivers 30,000 engagements per store per month, with 80 percent of those completing the experience and getting to the reward page.

Unilever has implemented in-store experiences across brands including Knorr, Magnum, B&J, Sunsilk, Dove, Clear and Vaseline. The company’s objective is to deliver a positive brand experience and convert consumers to purchase.

Susanne Arfelt, Unilever’s head of marketing for Singapore, admits that although the company has experimented with PlayTMN on a small scale, the efforts have been worthwhile. "It has provided a platform for high reach while maintaining the high level of engagement," she said.

She added that these experiences allow Unilver to educate consumers on details of the brand that would otherwise be hard to communicate in a TV commercial.

Arfelt says the company is now experimenting with the location of devices and is evaluating how to increase conversion rates.

"Capturing consumers' attention in the last mile has always been a utopian goal of advertisers and marketers because over 70 percent of final purchase decisions are made at this point," says Ken Mandel, Hootsuite’s former MD for APAC. In the case of PlayTMN, Mandel feels the use of game mechanics and touchscreens is impactful for all brands. "These interactive screens really speak to the digital consumer of today," he said.

Attaching a marketing message to a gaming experience can be a powerful way to attract consumers. People spend more than 1 billion hours a day on gaming — more time than all of Facebook and YouTube combined. Typically, consumers are completely focused when engaging with a game. If the brand message is intelligently weaved into that game experience, it could potentially affect purchase decisions long after the initial experience.

Still, similar things have been tried in the past. Mandel says the key difference with PlayTMN is that the company has created a medium that provides engagement, scalability and accountability, quite rare because it’s hard to get all three in one place.

PlayTMN’s biggest challenge is getting brands and their agencies to rethink marketing campaigns and incorporate the in-store interactive media space from the start.

David Tang, DDB’s Singapore CEO, notes that clients are experimenting with new innovation. "Of course, gamification and gamified experiences are over-glorified terms," he says. "Maybe we should ban it." According to Tang, clients are more interested in how to use such innovations to achieve exceptional results. "I have worked with enough clients to say they are open to more innovative engagement, but we've got to show the results," he said. "It's not just about the idea but the impact."

Tang is more upbeat about the application in big markets like China and Indonesia, a direction PlayTMN is ultimately moving. Singapore is a small domestic market and lacks the scalability to justify the investment, but is a good place to test the product, Tang adds. "I’m curious to see the regional brands taking to this in a big scalable way across Asia."

Arfelt said one struggle is reaching out to decision-makers during the shopping trip. "In some cases, the games are occupied by people who are not the actual decision-makers," she says. She’d also like to improve the opportunity of retargeting, which is currently impeded by strict data laws.

This article first appeared on

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