Mobile in the mall

I was at a mall in metro Boston recently, and was amazed by the amount of mobile and social outreach from the mall developers.

In addition to offering you a chance to make friends with your mall on Facebook, this mall has also engaged with the Shopkick app to offer even more fun and diversion while you browse the stores. I couldn’t resist, and downloaded Shopkick to see what the poster promised.

Shopkick looks to be another application of “gamification,” a terrible-sounding word which means using game-like techniques and concepts in a non-game context. In the Shopkick case, you earn points and badges for walking around the mall and into stores, which presumably increase your incentive to do more of that. From a technical perspective, Shopkick is interesting because they came up with a way to use audio signals, instead of GPS, to enable local positioning inside a building.

Back to the app. I started it up, and discovered that I had earned a “badge” for just walking into the mall:

OK, I know I’m probably the wrong demographic for this app, but really? Do shoppers really need this simplistic level of reinforcement to encourage them to go to the mall?  I thought shopping was supposed to be enjoyable on its own, and enough of a draw to get customers to the mall, without having to add additional layers of liking, following, friending, and badging.

Of course, there’s much more to gamification than this example, and many sources of more serious discussion of the subject.

I’m curious to hear from people in the mobile marketing biz about this. Am I missing some important value here?