Web analytics services vendor First Insight Inc. has introduced an online game that tests the old notion that customers know best.
“Sold” enables consumers to pretend they own a retail store. The virtual retail titan buys inventory, sets pricing, selects store decorations and interacts with cartoon customers, all with the aim of making a virtual profit. A “receipt” at the end summarizes the financial success, or failure, of the retail effort. Like all self-respecting online games since the days of Pac-Man, the player also has a chance to ascend to the next level.
The goal is not to make real money, of course, but to give First Insight’s retail clients deeper insights into consumer behavior by analyzing the decisions they make while playing the game.
“As the power of influence continues to shift to the consumer, there is a growing trend among retailers to find innovative ways to stay connected,” says Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “Consumers are gaining a more active voice. Sold provides our clients with a unique opportunity to build meaningful customer relationships, collect authentic consumer insight and create more strategic merchandising plans.”
Petro says the game, which just launched, eventually will reside in four places: On the vendor’s web site, on retailer or consumer product manufacturer web sites, on retailer Facebook pages, or as links on e-mail marketing messages sent by retailers. Retailers can tailor the game to match their data-collection needs by, for instance, stocking the pretend store with existing or upcoming products to gauge consumer interest.
Retailers can encourage consumers to play the game by offering discounts or gift cards, as has been the case with similar online data-collection and gaming efforts, Petro says. He says, however, that the company’s research shows that the chance to have a say in a brand’s product selection and pricing is a bigger motivator for consumers than monetary incentives.
As consumers play, First Insight collects data on product selections, price points and perceived value and then uses its predictive analysis technology to deliver to clients merchandising recommendations. The price at which a player decides to sell, say, a pair of jeans gives the retailer insight into suitable price points for that specific product. Players also can indicate if they simply like or dislike products, and also leave comments that the retailer can study.