Get Your Game Face On! It’s Time to Gamify Your Community

Engagement is one of the most important aspects in creating a thriving and lively online community, and a constant flow of content is the key. However, a strong tempo of surveys, journals, or other activities isn’t going to keep even your most active members coming back. The “if you build it, they will come” mindset is a common pitfall with online communities, as most managers don’t commit to members beyond the activities they complete. It’s important for online community managers to create an environment their members will want to come back to, and gamification can do just that. Gamifying may seem like a hefty task, but it’s really as simple as creating small details in your online community that incentivize your active members, spark competitive thought, and make each user feel special. Keep reading for our pro tips to gamify your community.

1. You’ll Prosper with Points

The best place to start is awarding point values and rewarding members for completing activities. For quantitative activities, like surveys, you should always align the amount of time members are spending to complete the activity with the amount of points the activity is worth. For example – something that takes 10 minutes to complete should have a higher points value than a quick 5 question multiple choice poll. Using the number of questions or basing the point value off of an estimated time to complete the activity can be a foolproof way to stay consistent. But as we all know, time is money so be sure to be consistent. You don’t want members to feel slighted after the fact, so make sure the points value is described before they start the activity. You may even want to consider displaying how long the activity should take, so the member can decide if they have the time to finish.

2. Don’t be Afraid to Make Them Work

For more qualitative activities, like journals or discussion boards, it’s more beneficial to base point values on a word count. For example, putting a requirement on qualitative activities like “your response needs to be 100 words or more in order to earn points” will motivate members to give more detailed and in-depth responses. When gamifications is automated, someone who types “I don’t know”, may earn the full point value. At Leflein, we tend to award points manually for each response so that we ensure our clients are only receiving quality answers.

3. Sweeten the Pot

But points are meaningless without some kind of incentive to cash in and that’s why having a rotating amount of rewards and a diverse webshop can be a game-changer. In fact, rewards are the biggest motivator to get your members coming back for more – so make sure it’s something they want. In fact, Leflein frequently polls its members to see what types of incentives they’d want to see included in the webshop. We’ve offered a full spectrum of rewards including gift cards, exclusive content, merchandise, and signed memorabilia.

4. Money Doesn’t Have to Be the Only Thing Talking

Fostering a competitive environment in your community can also be a driving force for members to participate more. Giving them an opportunity to get the edge on other members and have a unique profile within the community. That’s why creating custom badges that members can earn from completing activities and member ranks that allow members to rank up as they rack up points should be a part of your community. Giving members the ability to earn badges not only gives them a satisfying mark that shows their dedication and effort, but can also give them the recognition they deserve. Not to mention, creating custom badges helps gives your community its own identity and can even give your members that same feeling.

5. Give Them a VIP Experience

Having everyone earn different badges for completing different activities gives them a visual layout that shows other members how special they are. It’s also important to give members the opportunity to earn exclusive badges so that they can flaunt their uniqueness. The phrase “the first five members to complete this earn a special badge” can go a long way and offers more of an incentive for members to complete activities faster. One last aspect can also drive a member’s inner competitor and strive for uniqueness-member rankings. Having a points and badge leaderboard can help members see where they stack up and drive them to vie for that #1 spot. It also helps to give them titles that signifies their progress and gives them a rewarding feeling of moving up in the ranks. Just having the ability for members to rank up from being a “Community Student” to a “Community Superstar” will give them a sense of accomplishment and drive them to be more engaged within the community.

Like I said at the start, engagement is an important factor in having a thriving online community and that’s why having more gamification options can make members more engaged. Just adding these simple features can make your community a lot livelier and boost the amount of activity in your community. So, if you’re struggling to boost your survey completions or just want to spike engagement from your members, gamifying your community is the way to go.


By Tom Moore

Leflein Community Manager

Transforming the In-Store Shopping Experience

Online shopping is like second nature for Millennials; even Instagram is looking more like a shopping app than a social network.  What’s a brick and mortar store to do?  The short answer is to transform the in-store shopping experience.  Experiential retailing can offer low and high tech solutions to better cater to savvy young shoppers.

We asked our 18-34 panel which in-store shopping features they’d like to see their favorite clothing retailer offer.  What they reported revealed that they are looking for tools to make the shopping experience both more personalized and easier.  In essence young shoppers want a personal stylist; they want the merchandising to show them how to put an outfit together and what will look best on their figure.  They are also expecting additions to the store design that are more experiential in nature.  Finally they are looking for more convenient services that can compete with online shopping.

Smart tech solutions would be a welcome addition to the in-store experience such as smart mirrors (33%) and smartphone body scans for precise fittings (30%).  On the low tech side improvements would include such as things as style guides for all shapes and sizes (32%) and replacing numbered or S/M/L sizing labels with body shape labels (23%).



For 20+ years, Leflein has been partnering with leading brands like Coach, Nike, ESPN, and Hulu on qualitative and quantitative strategic research.

Contact MConforto@leflein.com for more info on how we can partner on customized research solutions for your brand.

How Millennial Brand Activism Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

A staggering 80% of millennials said they’d take action against a brand whose advertising mishandles a social issue they most care about; 44% would go as far as to stop buying the brand altogether.

These findings are from a recent study conducted by Leflein in partnership with GenForward Survey of Millennials, a nationally representative bimonthly survey out of the University of Chicago.

Now more than ever, brands need to be pre-emptive, investing in ad testing and taking a TMA (Total Marketing Approach) to avoid the time, resources and embarrassment that goes along with having to rehabilitate their image. “Not only do advertisers run the real risk of social media brand activism to an insensitive campaign, a poorly conceived ad can hurt the bottom line,” according to Barbara Leflein, President of Leflein Associates.

Millennials Take Action Against A Tone Deaf Brand

Should Brands Support or Sidestep Social Causes?

This study comes on the heels of last week’s news of Unilever’s Dove Body Wash pulling its latest Facebook ad amidst social outrage over their depiction of a black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a white woman.

To think, this is still happening in a year of advertising debacles such as Beiersdorf’s Nivea Deodorant “White is Purity” ad and Pepsi’s now infamous Kendall Jenner protest spot, that are tone deaf to the needs and sensitivities of diverse audiences.

Through this research, Leflein wanted to better understand  what the highly diverse millennial population thought about the relationship of brand advertising and social causes.

Other Key Findings

  • Almost all millennials (87%) cited an issue that they would like brands to bring attention to through advertising.
  • Of the 20 social issues tested, racial equality is the number one social cause millennials want brands to support.
  • African American millennials are three times as likely as white millennials to favor brand support of racial equality as their #1 cause (36% vs. 11% respectively).
  • Other top box social issues millennials are interested in seeing attention brought to include global warming (11% total millennials vs. 4% African Americans), immigration (19% among Latinos compared to 3% of whites) and income equality (12% among Asian Americas vs. 7% of whites).

Skepticism for Brands and Social Causes

Considering all the recent misfires, it is not surprising that not all millennials trust brands to tackle social issues in their advertising. Two out of five millennials (40%) are skeptical; believing that companies only pretend to care (23%) or that brands and social issues don’t mix (17%).

Final Word

Only 10% of millennials report that they are more likely to buy products from companies that tackle social issues they care about compared to four times as many saying they wouldn’t buy a brand’s product or service if they mishandled the social cause.

“This data suggests that brands should very carefully consider and test their ads with diverse consumers before embarking on a campaign that grapples with social causes. There’s more to lose from a poorly executed ad campaign than there is to gain from increased sales,” according to Barbara Leflein.

Apps That Deliver Experts To Your Door

What’s next in the app world?  Maybe just maybe it’s a fleet of live professionals that can deliver personalized expertise to you in privacy and comfort.  We asked millennials about their interest in using apps that would offer these various experts through live chat and the answers were quite surprising.

Meal kits, which are all the rage, offer consumers new ways to save time and money while providing them with an expanded cooking repertoire.  So it’s only natural that the next step is to bring the chef into the kitchen.  According to our latest research with millennials, a plurality (40%) agree that having the availability of a live chat with a cooking expert on their mobile device would be a welcome tool.

Another area millennials would welcome a video chat includes access to a therapist (35%). This is not surprising given the levels of stress millennials report in many of our studies with this age cohort.

What is surprising about this new data is that relatively high levels of young men are interested in beauty/grooming consultations (31%), personal shopping chats with experts (41%) and yes interior design advice (37%).


Leflein presents research on Women’s Empowerment at #NewMR

Leflein participated in NewMR’s International Women’s Day Festival on March 8th and presented a compelling case study they did with WE TV on Women’s Empowerment and Media Choices. Watch the full presentation here:

Millennials’ Affinity For Local Content

While the landscape for targeting the much-coveted Millennial (and Gen Z) audience with digital content is becoming increasingly crowded, an opportunity may exist for enterprising media companies, brands, and publishers to differentiate themselves by utilizing the underserved hyperlocal news format with a purposeful twist.

What is the hyperlocal format, exactly? And what will it take to build a successful content strategy around it? Let’s take a deep dive!


A Hyperlocal Overview

As traditional news publishers continue to shift towards new mobile and digital distribution models to remain relevant with younger audiences, one domain that has not been able to pivot to a lucrative online model is the hyperlocal news market.

Hyperlocal—defined by Wikipedia as online news targeting a smaller, geographically defined community—gained traction during the early stages of the social web as traditional local news sources began to fade due to struggles with monetizing web-based content. A notable example of an early (and successful) hyperlocal network is Patch.com.

Big media brands attempted to acquire and leverage these emerging news platforms with the promise of implementing new distribution and revenue models. Despite initial enthusiasm and interest, however, many of these initiatives turned out to be ill-fated.

AOL infamously lost 200 million dollars from their investment in Patch.com. NBC eventually shut down operations on the local news aggregator Everyblock.com, which struggled with a profitable business model even despite receiving critical praise.


Despite these initial setbacks, the technology and startup sectors have acknowledged that there is still a need for local news and information, especially among younger audiences.


Recently, digital-based media and technology companies have renewed their interest in the local news format within the social space, such as Googles’ Bulletin, Hoodline, and Facebook’s recent algorithm/newsfeed tweaks for local news. Even the resilient Patch network recently launched a new mobile app complete with push notifications. Big media has also jumped into the fray such as ABC Networks’ Localish, and CBS Televisions’ CBSN New York.

The pivotal question is whether these new local platforms will appeal to the audience most likely to engage with them: Millennials.  The largest and most diverse generational cohort in the U.S. also happen to be the largest consumers of online news, according to a recent report published by the Pew Journalism Project.

Can these new hyperlocal efforts effectively gratify a fluctuating young audience, while also validating new publishing revenue models that allow local media brands to scale where previous attempts have failed?

The recent shut-down of Millennial news publisher Mic.com illustrates that it can be a challenging space, but it also demonstrates an opportunity for creative and adaptive brands to seize.


Millennials Affinity with Local Content

A study of Millennial news consumption from the Media Insight Project—an initiative of the American Press Institute—showed Millennials were more likely to follow news about their local community more than celebrity and entertainment news.

Also, a recent unprecedented study published in The Journal of Media Business Studies examined young adults’ multi-platform local news consumption patterns on an audience level, identifying a distinct set of habitual behaviors for the format. The study goes as far as to identify distinct types of young local news consumers, including heavy local news seekers and determined, location-independent news seekers.


Research from the newly hyperlocal publisher ABC Owned Networks suggests that Millennials feel better about their local communities than the world at large, and are eager for content that focuses on personal connection.

As for the behavioral patterns of Millennial news consumers, studies show a steady diet of media and information on various social platforms, including networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube,  and Reddit, along with “dark” social channels such as private messaging apps and group texts.

Overall, Millennials tend to be multi-dimensional when it comes to news-seeking and will use any platform available to them, even though some platforms skew higher especially for younger users such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Reddit. Their information-seeking is intermixed with other attributes including social connection, community discussion, problem-solving, and social action, all of which makes them mindful news consumers.

From a behavioral perspective, one possible explanation for the Millennial drive for local news may be a need to reduce stress and anxiety from polarizing and divisive “hard news” topics typical in national news cycles. Local news topics can contain more prosocial and interpersonal themes that are more community-centered, which is an essential characteristic of the “Connected Generation.”

A recent study from the American Psychological Association—Stress in America Survey: Generation Z Stressed About Issues in the News—revealed that younger, up and coming audiences are becoming increasingly emotionally fatigued with hard news topics including immigration, sexual assault, and mass shootings.

This strategy aligns with a rising trend of news storytelling known as “constructive journalism.”


Purposeful Storytelling for Positive Engagement

Constructive journalism is an emerging branch of content creation with the purposeful intent of eliciting positive emotions through solution-based storytelling, taking some of its cues from the discipline of positive psychology.

Not be confused with the innocuous “soft piece,” constructive news stories can address and tackle hard and difficult topics while re-framing the story structure to eliminate sensationalism and negativity bias in current events.

Useful and solution-based journalism is experiencing a surging interest from a handful of savvy publishers—like the Guardians’ The Upside series—as fake-news-littered social-feed algorithms and partisan news outlets continue to lose trust and investment with the public.

The juxtaposition of constructive journalism’s prosocial concepts with the relevancy and demand for more purposeful news content for Millennials can potentially be a winning formula for generating engaging and share-worthy content.


Purposeful Hyperlocal Good for Business?

There is some potentially good news for companies and brands looking to go down this strategic content path. For starters, several studies have indicated that there is an increased engagement with certain types of solution-based news stories, which can gain up to 30 seconds more attention than traditional news stories with text-based formats. Imagine the possibilities of leveraging this insight with the already engaging digital story-based format?

Another benefit is that hyperlocal news efforts are more advertiser-friendly. A recent survey from Digiyday shows that 43% of media buyers report that they avoid news content altogether. This risk-averse mindset towards news advertising could potentially be an opportunity to reach nearly half the population of media buyers with content that is not radioactive to ad-buying budgets.

Lastly, according to the FCC there has been a gap in the local news marketplace that has existed for at least the past ten years, which represents a major opportunity for new hyperlocal outlets.



Only time will tell if this resurgence of hyperlocal news will ultimately prove more successful than previous efforts, but now is an excellent time to explore before the market becomes crowded like other formats.

One thing is for sure: customized market research is needed to ensure a productive run with the hyperlocal format. Primary customized insights and analysis can address key research areas including relevant local topics/interest (particularly for the diverse Millennial audience), best formats (e.g., video length long or short form), best channels of distribution (e.g., Facebook, proprietary platform), and scalable, validated revenue models beyond just subscriptions for gated content


Come join our database of creative professionals to participate in paid brainstorming sessions for media testing and market research. Send your CV and info to Mconforto@leflein.com


Andreas Jackson Strategist





Join Leflein, NowThis, and NAPTE for a Conversation on Solution Based Storytelling

Millennials are avoiding traditional news as it adds to the stress and anxiety they already experience. Despite being stressed, Millennials desire to connect with their community and immerse themselves in the causes they care about. Now is the time to transform news for this generation through solution based storytelling.


Click here to reserve your spot





Leflein Polls Millennials On Their Furniture Shopping

When was the last time you…

  • Visited a furniture store in person
  • Looked at furniture online
  • Searched social media for previously owned furniture


Nearly three-quarters (72%) of millennials have searched or shopped either in store or online for furniture in the past month.

Only 7% of millennials shopped exclusively for furniture in-store only in the past month.


For what reasons would you choose to go to a store in person to make a furniture purchase? (Select all that apply)

While the majority of millennials (54%) go to stores to see and feel the furniture in person, W18-34 are more likely than M18-34 to go to stores for design help (51% vs. 35%) and M18-34 are more likely than W18-34 to go to stores because the furniture is fully assembled (46% vs. 33%).

Which of these would you have to see or try out in person before buying? (Select all that apply)

The top three items millennials would have to try out in person before buying are Beds/Mattresses (51%), sofas/sectionals/loveseats (39%), and chairs & recliners (34%)

  • W18-34 are more likely than M18-34 to report sofas/sectionals/loveseats (47% vs. 32%)

Less than 20% of millennials reported a need to see the following items before buying: kitchen islands (18%), bookcases (18%), bar stools (17%), accent tables (17%), end & side tables (17%), cribs (16%), headboards (16%), sideboards & buffets (16%), wall art (15%), and nightstands (15%).


Which of these are most important to you when purchasing furniture? (Pick your top 3)

Quality (51%), Comfort (50%), Price (44%), and Style (37%) are most important to A18-34 when purchasing furniture.

W18-34 are more likely than M18-34 to cite comfort (54% vs. 45%) and style (43% vs. 31%) as being important.

Read here to learn how our online consumer communities can help mine insights for your brand.

Your List is Your Treasure

Your customer list is critically important to the growth of your business, and is one of your most valuable assets.  Each data point is more than just a name, email or phone number – every name has a face, a personality, and a backstory, which could be strategically leveraged.

  • The focus on your customers is always our number one priority when working together, we recognize that your customer’s time is valuable – they too are working under deadlines, within priorities and juggling a million assignments.

When you entrust a market research company with your proprietary list of customers, they should respect every element of that list and treat it with the same care as you.

An experienced market research firm, like Leflein, will take full precautions when it comes to list security, confidentiality, and sensitivity. And to ensure that your lists are up-to-date, Leflein will clean it to prevent duplicate contacts within the same department, and build onto the list should we find changes in the organization.

When all is said and done, your insights are only as good as the people on your list.  Experienced research partners know not just how to ask the right questions, but importantly, how to get to the right person.  Leflein will go that extra mile to find qualified respondents, which often entails strategies that take us beyond your list.

China Furniture Tariffs to Adversely Affect Consumers

With the impact of tariffs top of mind, The International Home Furnishing Representatives Association (IHFRA) asked Leflein Associates, Inc., a leading market research firm, to field a survey among IHFRA members in order to gauge their perceptions of how current and future tariffs might impact the landscape of the home furnishings sector.

Based on input from close to 340 IHFRA members, who represent independent sales representatives, suppliers, retailers and other active in the home furnishings sector, more than 40% of the respondents believe that tariffs will cause furniture suppliers to shift production to countries other than China.

Some 35% of the respondents are also predicting that manufacturers will have to adjust pricing as a result.

And when the question was asked about who would ultimately foot the bill should higher priced furniture emerge as a result of the tariffs, over half of the survey respondents said the consumer would be one paying more for goods impacted by tariffs.

According to Ray Allegrezza, Executive Director for IHFRA, “This survey underscores the volatility the industry may be facing should higher tariffs come into play in coming weeks and months.”

The challenge for the industry, Allegrezza added, is that the issue of tariffs comes at a time when furniture sales, while reasonable, have not seemed to keep pace with a steadily improving economy.

And when that is coupled with the timing and focus of the impending tariffs, that could spell more trouble for the industry, Allegrezza suggest.

“As opposed to the earlier tariffs against Chinese imports, which took hold at the end of September and targeted some $200 billion at 10%, the impending tariffs, set for January 1, 2019, will come in at 25%,” he noted.

“But here is the rub,” Allegrezza explained. “While the earlier tariffs mostly hit materials, about 25% of the planned tariffs will target consumer goods directly, making the perceptions of our survey respondents right on the money,” he said.

Based on what Allegrezza sees ahead, sales of furniture, electronics, computers are all positioned to feel the brunt of higher prices.

What follows are the top line results of the Leflein survey:


If the tariffs on China furniture imports increase to 25%, what do you believe furniture manufacturers will do? (Select all that apply)

  • 44% of IHFRA members cite if the tariffs on China furniture imports increase to 25%, furniture manufacturers will move their production facilities to other countries
  • More than one-third (35%) believe manufacturers will adjust their pricing to compensate for the tariff.
  • Only one in ten (10%) believe manufacturers will build plants or expand facilities in the US


Who will be most impacted by furniture tariff increases? (Select One)

  • The majority of IHFRA members (51%) predict consumers will be the ones to experience the biggest impact by the furniture tariff increase. Here’s some explanations for why & how:

“Consumers don’t really understand the costs of furniture now. They always want the lowest price products unless they are of the top earners in their respective markets. Many of the top volume producing products are made in China. That much capacity cannot be reasonably spread to Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and Mexico. The logistics of shipping alone make that impossible. So, consumers will have to pay more of their money to get product in their home, even at the low end of the market.”

“Everyone will be impacted. I am a sales rep and I already feel the pinch as the stores are holding back buying or if they are still purchasing they are absorbing the 10% increase. I think that furniture will become a lower priority as everything in the whole country is going to increase 25%. Customers make the ultimate decision and come Jan- Fall.”

“Furniture is the first of the big ticket items to be affected by cost increases.  With no effective long term consumer financing, furniture is a cash sale 75% to 80% of the time.  The vast majority of sales thus are dependent on how much cash a consumer has available people don’t have the cash to afford the level of quality they desire.

  • Three in ten (29%) foresee manufacturers experiencing the most impact. Here’s some explanations for why & how:

“I think Manufacturers will bear the brunt of tariff increases because consumers can always shop other choices, reps can grab other lines, and retailers can adjust their assortment on their floor to create the best value for their customer. This is why Manufacturers will have to be agile and move some production, eat some of the tariff, and possibly look at expanding in the U.S.”

“The ones whose products are made mostly in China will be forced to move production to other countries. This will take time to get established. The most obvious choice is Vietnam which is much smaller and has much less capacity and fewer raw materials than China. All relative factors will drive costs up in Vietnam and create long lead times. It will be a trickle down affect impacting all parties involved but manufacturers will struggle for a long time and some will probably go out of business. For smaller manufacturers it will be like starting all over again which will be a real struggle considering the competition in the industry. Retailers and consumers will shop differently by selecting products not impacted by the tariffs. Overall for a while furniture sales will take a dip. The question is “How long will it take to recover?””


Which merchandise category is most affected by increases in tariffs? (Select One)

  • Two-fifths of IHFRA members (43%) cite case goods as the category most affected by increases in tariffs.
  • More than one-third (35%) believe upholstery will
  • Only one in ten (10%) believe accessories will be most affected, only 8% cite outdoor or bedding (4%) as being impacted most.




Which price point is likely to be least impacted by tariffs?

  • 67% of IHFRA members believe high end items will be least impacted.
  • 13% cite mid-range, and nearly two out of ten (19%) cite low end

Which manufacturers stand to benefit most from new business as a result of the new tariffs (Please name specific companies)

Top 5 companies mentioned (among those who mentioned a company):

Ashley 30%
Southern Motion 9%
Amish-made Furniture* 8%
Vaughan Bassett 6%
Catnapper/Jackson 6%

*represents Amish mentions in general, not a specific manufacturer

Will companies selling products not impacted by tariffs benefit?

  • Virtually all IHFRA members (96%) believe those companies not impacted by tariffs will benefit from sales increases.
    • While more than half of IHFRA members (54%) believe companies will benefit somewhat, two-fifths (43%) assume those companies not impacted will benefit a great deal.

If you are an independent rep, have your suppliers empowered you to answer your retailer’s questions about possible pricing changes as a result of tariff increases

  • Eighty-six percent of independent reps have been empowered by suppliers to answer questions from retailer’s regarding possible pricing changes.