Case Studies - July 1, 2021


In the previous article, we revised a few definitions of gamification, underlying how academics are still discussing the most correct and inclusive one. We also explained how game techniques can easily be applied to a huge variety of sectors, thus making gamification a useful mean to engage users, regardless of the aim (informative, educational,  purchasing and so on).

In this article instead, we will give you a practical case study in which gamification was applied strategically and led to great results. 

The case study we want to take under magnifying glass is the example of Nike’s app “Run Club”. In particular we’ll describe:

  • The aim of the app
  • The features
  • The strategy
  • The results

Let’s go!

The overwhelming world of app development

Now, Play Store and iOS markets have been in the last few years over-flooded with apps. Whether you are developing a simple one-tab app, or a very complex and sophisticated one, you have to take in consideration that app-development is nowadays a very thriving market. In 2020 Google Play Store  accounted around 3.04 million apps.

It’s quite challenging to emerge, right?

In addition to that, we have to consider the problem of retention

What is retention?

A user coming back to the app at least once in a month, is considered loosely retained (but at least he/she comes back!).

According to Localytics, around 21% of app users are one-timers! Besides, the industry standard time span to compare this data is 90 days.

So, imagine being the Nike guy who has to decide how to build an app that retains customer attention and boosts their loyalty. These are quite discouraging statistics.

user retention in app business

As you can see in the above tables, the first three months are very delicate ones and the loyalty of the user is in jeopardy, due to poor interest and motivation.

But let’s dive into the case study of Nike Run Club app and find out  how they managed to solve this problem (with outstanding results too).

We’ll give you a hint: they used gamification 😀

The aim of the app and the challenge

The app Nike Run Club is available both for iOS and Android systems. Creators wanted to overcome the motivation gap of occasional runners and encourage them to train for a longer period of time. 

How many of us subscribed to an annual gym subscription  and ditched after three months? Not even the money spent, kept our motivation going. So imagine how hard it is for a free app to ignite the “motivation engine”. Basically the aim here was not only to get people to download the app, but also to keep them interested for a longer length of time.

The features:

A captivating UX  with full-screen wizard shows as we open the app for the first time, asking us to insert our datas: our gender, weight and height are a must, to start categorizing the user. Then we are immediately led to a big bright yellow button that says “Start”. 

Start your run.

Do it now. 

If you are not sure, you can try the guided run.

Don’t worry, we’ve got everything you need.

And then as you get comfortable with the app, you skim through the pages to find a leader-board, challenges to join, badges to win as you reach your goal, events to take part together with your friends…that’s all gamification folks!

Nike has even established a few partnerships that can help you stay motivated: Headspace, Apple music, Class pass. When you reach specific goals, you can earn discounts, little gifts or even custom Nike t-shirts to show off your success. *

All of this is included in a free app but Nike gently reminds you, at the end of the menu, that it has an e-shop where you find running-related products. You never know when you might need a new pair of Nike shoes to accomplish the last challenge…

The strategy

Strivecloud makes an interesting analysis of this case study, breaking down the gamification strategy used in this app. They picked out five points that managed to retain users even after the first phase excitement wore off: 

  • Creating a community to build relations and  increase user retention

The user is encouraged to interact with the rest of the community, sharing challenges and the passion to run itself. You might even find mates to train with, other Nike Run Club users, of course!

  • Deadlines and rush to trigger user participation

As we marketers know, the “urge” is a great trigger to action. Some challenges have a deadline. You have to complete them before they “run” away. . Better rush and join them now. 

  • Celebrate progress to reinforce app engagement

The user’s need for empowerment is fulfilled by the badges you gain. Share them and acknowledge your success. 

  • Ignite competition through leaderboards

Another way to push toward interaction, is to give the possibility to challenge your friends and family members. The people you are interacting with are close to you and you know them personally. What a boost to motivation!

  • Empower users through personalization

Last but not least, customize the app with your music playlist and with coaching plans tailored on your strength and weaknesses. This will keep it challenging but not impossible. 

The results of the study

According to, Nike Run Club was downloaded 700K times, making it the third most popular app from Nike’s suite. You can check the monthly revenues yourself…

statistics on nike run club app
Nike Run Club: the most rewarding app

According to Mint, the gamified app greatly boosted Nike’s customer loyalty and the system allowed Nike to collect high amounts of data over a long period of time. These data will naturally serve the purpose to market their products and services directly.  Naturally “ Nike has information ranging from people’s height and weight to locations and browsing habits. Nike can tap into these details to craft ads and attract customers[…] it has a significant advantage over rivals because of its workout apps”.

That’s definitely a case study from which we can take inspiration from!

More to come:

Summing up, in this case study we’ve explored how gamification can support the community in retail business. In the next article we’ll discover how efficient it is, in educational matters.

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