retail trends: the rise of gaming in Australia

by: Sarah Kneebone

It seems the world will never tire of PLAY… and why would they ;)? Before you say it - no, this trend isn’t limited to children. Case in point: Candy Crush. Enough said.
Gamification is a hot topic for businesses looking to be innovative in 2019 and we’re also seeing a surge in Australian consumers’ love for gaming products - particularly retro comebacks and emerging digital platforms.
In this post, we’re sharing the latest Australian game trends, as well as thought starters to help the retail industry get on the right side of this wave.

Australia is game

On its 1st birthday, Amazon Australia revealed that "Gaming' took the top spot of their 2018 Consumer Report which reviewed major shopping trends and top selling items.
Although new to the Australian market, this finding says a lot, as the local range has already grown to nearly 100 million products across 29 categories - reaching almost 10,000 customers.
YouTube also had its biggest year for gaming in 2018: 

“…over 50 billion hours of game-related content consumed, while Amazon-owned Twitch also saw exponential growth in its number of creators, viewers and the total volume of content consumed.” (We Are Social)

Gen Zers are driving the growth of game-focused platforms and eSports as we move through 2019, and gaming “influencers” are earning big bucks as young people become increasingly interested in monetising their personal brands.


Results for retro

There has been a surge in demand for retro consoles like the miniature version of Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic Mini consoles. The upcoming release of the PlayStation Classic also signals that this trend will continue.

“…the nation has been swept up with a thirst for all things retro” (Rocco Braeuniger, Country Manager at Amazon Australia)


Further, demand isn’t just limited to technology, but all the paraphernalia surrounding it. Consumers are going mad for retro games, toys, clothes and accessories for Mario Cart, Monopoly, Casio and LEGO, amongst others.



Talking of LEGO…

To illustrate this point, Exhibit A: last week it was announced that Sydney is getting its first LEGO store - a major flagship store which is promised to provide an immersive retail experience with a focus on interactive and innovative brick experiences.

“The custom-built store will feature many unique hands-on interactive brick experiences including the signature ‘Pick a Brick’ wall featuring countless combinations of bricks to choose from. LEGO brick engraving will also feature, alongside large 3D models inspired by iconic Sydney landmarks and a dedicated area specifically for children’s parties.” (Shopping Centre News)

Attending this store will involve so much more than simply buying a product; it will be a PLAYful, memorable, emotionally engaging and a socially interactive experience. This kind of innovation is what will help retailers stand out and connect with consumers in 2019, and beyond.


PLAYing with this trend

Gamification is popular in marketing and other industries, but less so in the Australian retail environment. Coles’ Little Shop campaign for plastic collectables and McDonalds Monopoly prizes are examples of some brands dipping their toe in the gamification water, but the industry could be doing more.

One good example from 2018 comes from Mattel and Cobs Popcorn who partnered for the release of 13 limited-edition Uno cards. Specially marked packs across Australia included one of these "special" cards including a "popcorn card", a "deflection card" and a "draw eight wildcard".

This partnership appealed to Uno enthusiasts and meant that their snack of choice during a game would be Cobs popcorn.

“Humans are naturally competitive. We’re hard-wired to want to win, and we’re motivated by reward, whether it’s monetary, physical, or simply bragging rights. Gamification works in retail because it helps brands engage with their customers. Game mechanics also make shoppers believe that the more they shop, the more they stand to gain.” (Shopify)

So, in a time where bricks and mortar stores fear replacement by online competition, why not embrace this tactic?
Here are some key considerations and questions to ask when adding some gamification to your retail strategy: 
  • Are you enhancing the customer’s experience or distracting from it?
  • Are you offering a meaningful reward that won’t leave consumers feeling conned?
  • Have you embedded a way of personalising or tailoring your offering to different demographics?
  • Should you make the gamification optional for people to participate in, so you don’t create hurdles and frustrations for certain consumers?
  • What will work best for your brand: physical games or mobile apps/platforms?
You could experiment with contests, giveaways, loyalty/reward programs, quizzes, physical games, mobile games, augmented reality, VR, and more to drive loyalty, awareness (great PR opportunities!), engagement and sales this year.


Over to you

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If you'd like to learn more about retail trends in Australia, get in touch to let us know your core area of interest and we'll be happy to explore it in a weekly blog. Better yet, email us via and we'll book in a discovery session to explore your specific needs.

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about the author

Sarah Kneebone

Sarah is PLAY’s go-to content writer with a passion for marrying creativity and communication with clever strategy. A former marketer with PLAY and for international brands such as QBE Insurance and General Motors, Sarah moved home to the UK to raise her little family and start a health coaching business. Luckily for us, she continues to share her talent for the written word with the team in Australia.

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