“Game on!” Pushing consumer buttons to change sustainable behavior: a gamification field study

Rory Francis Mulcahy, Ryan McAndrew, Rebekah Russell-Bennett, Dawn Iacobucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Marketers have begun to investigate the potential of gamification for influencing consumer behavior by using game design elements in realms varying from branding, retail, sales and health services. Marketers have also begun to explore consumer behavior in sustainability. This paper aims to provide contributions to build on both literatures. Design/methodology/approach: This research tests gamification principles in a large field study on real consumers that includes data from pre-post surveys, gamified app analytics and household energy meters. The data are analyzed using ANOVA’s and structural equation modeling. Findings: The findings demonstrate: gamification significantly enhanced consumers’ knowledge, attitudes, behavioral intentions and realized bill savings compared to a control group; reward-based game design elements including points, badges and other rewards contribute to enhancing sustainable behavior outcomes. Research limitations/implications: Future research in settings outside of sustainability may extend upon the findings of the current research to further understanding the impact of reward-based game design elements in marketing. Practical implications: The findings have important practical implications for how organizations might use serious games to promote sustainable and other desirable behavior. In particular, how reward-based game design elements, points, trophies and badges, can be used to create a chain of relationships that leads to reduced electricity consumption. Originality/value: This paper fulfills the need to understand if the impact of gamification extends outside of controlled environments and into the field. Further, it demonstrates how reward-based game design elements contribute to consumers changing their behavior, a relationship that is not yet thoroughly understood in the marketing literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2593-2619
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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