The gamification of decisions (Column)

Brands and apps are taking a page from Tinder to engage and help consumers

After only three years on the market, dating app Tinder has become a force to be reckoned with, garnering 1 billion matches in its first two years alone. There is something strangely addicting to swiping left or right and gamifying a longstanding way of doing things.

Many businesses are catching on to the success of Tinder, which is currently valued at around $1.6 billion. Tinder isn’t a niche, passing fad or joke. It’s a full-fledged business, now complete with a subscription model and a large and loyal user base. Isn’t that what every brand is looking for?

Looking past the stigma of Tinder, it’s easy to see that people want an easier, faster and fun way to make decisions big and small. This doesn’t just go for finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, but has now extended into the fashion, employment, marketing and auto industries with various start-ups ripe to take over market share.

Jobr is an app that takes a page from Tinder, applying a similar user experience to match job seekers with employers. Companies such as Twitter, Lyft, Yelp and many others are already all over this tool, using it to browse potential job candidates and communicating with them through the app if a match is made.

The swipe-to-judge model is also no stranger to Kwoller, a fashion app that launched last year at TechCrunch Disrupt. The app shows one single image at a time. Swipe right to add a bag to your “love list” and left if you’re just not that into it. Anything on a user’s love list is tracked, and if an item goes on sale, they’ll get a push notification so they can be first in (the virtual) line to get the item. Users can also share finds with friends.

TMATCH, a sleek-looking tool that promises to help people find the “Toyota that’s just right for you,” is an extreme example of just how important gamification has become to millennials. A car is the second largest purchase decision of a person’s life, but Toyota has acknowledged that people want a way to gamify that purchase decision and they want to do it on their phone.

The site looks fantastic on a browser or on mobile and is very interactive. It asks a few key questions to identify the right car for you. How important is fuel efficiency? Who is typically in the car with you? What’s your monthly payment range? After 20 or so questions the tool suggests the ideal car, describes why it’s a good match, outlines specs and personalizes the overall experience.

Since I have a dog riding with me every day, it gave me tips for driving with dogs in the car and because I also identified that I drive frequently in winter, it had tips for driving essentials for that season.

These examples all speak to three key trends that are prevalent in something Trend Hunter’s consumer insights research has identified as “Matchmaking Adulthood:”

  • A growing fascination with gamification
  • Increased reliance on mobile use for important decisions
  • An expectation for easy, fast and fun tools

If your brand is not taking into account these three points, it’s time to play a little catch-up and maybe turn to Tinder – for inspiration only, of course.

Shelby Walsh is president at Toronto-based Trend Hunter, an online trend community and research company

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