January 14, 2010, 12:00 AM

First Insight plays social online games to connect retailers with shoppers

To get consumers involved in the development and promotion of products, First Insight’s Virtual Customer Viewpoint application engages shoppers through online games designed to gather information on consumer preferences in product pricing and design.

To get consumers directly involved in the development and promotion of new products, First Insight’s Virtual Customer Viewpoint application engages shoppers through online games designed to gather information on consumer preferences in product pricing and design.

“We use casual online games to engage customers, who get to see pre-market products and say what they would pay for them and participate in their design,” says First Insight president and CEO Greg Petro, who is a former merchandise buyer for major retailers including May Co. (now part of Macy’s Inc.).

The online games, which First Insight hosts in a software-as-a-service environment, are designed to let consumers copy them as software widgets to their social media pages to share new-product information with friends.

A typical game would show an image of a product and multiple-choice questions that ask players to note how much they think consumers in general would pay for the product. Other questions would ask players to suggest different colors or product features. Consumers often agree to play along just to participate with a preferred brand, but some merchants also offer a coupon or other incentive for completing a game, First Insight says.

The latest version of the Virtual Customer Viewpoint application, which was introduced at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo this week, includes predictive analytics technology and connections to a retailer’s customer databases, and is designed to produce within days reports of customer feedback, Petro says.

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