Amit Arora, former Vice President of Product Management at Swiss Re, gave this presentation at the Product-Led Summit in New York in 2023.

I've been in the product space for about 22 years now. I started my journey in telecom, moved to financial consulting, then healthcare, and now I’m in insurance.

I'm also a professor at Columbia University. I teach AI analytics and healthcare operations. When I'm helping the students get into new projects and research, consumer behavior almost always comes to the fore. What is that we’re trying to do? How do we make that successful? How do we get the product out the door? 

But the next big question becomes, how do we improve product adoption

That's where a lot of research has already been conducted in behavioral science and gamification, and taking learnings from those aspects and baking them into customer journeys. 

But how do you use those techniques to make sure customers remain loyal and introduce the element of stickiness? 

All of it helps to improve your top line for the company, which means more revenue at the end of the day. 

What is product gamification?

Most of us have played video games at some point in time, and there's a sense of engagement. You want to get from one level to the next, and that impacts the amount of time you spend playing the game.

What makes you continue to play a game and buy the next title in the series? There are a couple of reasons. 

One is the adrenaline rush that you get while using a product. There’s a sense of curiosity that you develop. If I go to the next level, what's going to happen? Is it going to be more exciting? Will it have more danger? Will it be more fun? 

Then, over a period of time, you develop a sense of belonging with that product. 

You take out those elements of the gamification side of things and try to craft your customer journey in the product you're launching or designing, and try to bake those feelings into that product. 

Science and experiments have shown that that helps with more adoption in the marketplace. There’s more stickiness and more loyalty. 

Functional design and human-focused design

There are concepts called functional design and human-focused design. As the name suggests, a functional design is something that’s very functional and objective. Take IKEA for example. Their designs for furniture and items that you buy for your house are fit for use. 

For human-focused design, think about your children not wanting to brush their teeth. We've seen companies trying to make toothbrushes more exciting by printing cartoons on them. 

The other thing that they’ve done in the recent past is make the toothbrushes smaller in size because kids' hands are small and they have difficulty holding them up so they can't brush their teeth properly. They also made the end of the toothbrush a little bit thicker so that kids could grip them properly.

All those design elements and refinements that go into the product design with a particular target market in mind go into what we define as human-focused design. 

A toothbrush is a toothbrush, but how do you make sure that it’s aligned with your particular target market in terms of how they’ll be using it? So that they develop a level of comfort and level of excitement? Now, kids are hopefully looking forward to brushing their teeth because they’re attached to the way the toothbrush looks and feels. 

In the end, it's less about efficiency when you're creating a new product or coming up with design ideas. It's more about motivating the customer to use your product.