How Octalysis helped revolutionise the Volkswagen Group Loyalty Program

In an earlier blogpost, we told you that we designed the new and fully gamified Rewards and Loyalty Program of the Volkswagen Group. We also mentioned that it has been launched in Austria and that we hope they will roll it out to 90 million customers worldwide.

Yes, we are proud to have been part of the first fully gamified loyalty program in the car manufacturing industry, possibly world-wide. Yes, we are proud that users finally will have fun with a loyalty program. And yes, we do expect great results going forward.

But how did we do it? What were the secrets to our success and what is still in store for the coming releases of the Loyalty App (called “BONEO”)? Find out below! But before you read on – watch the Official BONEO Launch Trailer Video!

The Volkswagen Loyalty Program

Before The Octalysis Group got involved in the project, Volkswagen had already done some design itself: it created some screens, nice buttons and layouts. They wanted to take it further and ensure long term high ROIs. It was time to go from Function Focused Design to Human Focused Design with Octalysis.

Human Focused Design? Isn’t that making design and products that users feel is easy to use? Almost! Making things easy to use is called Human Centred Design, first made popular by IDEO.

Human Focused Design goes further: just because something is easy to use doesn’t mean that anybody would actually feel motivated to use it. For that to happen we need design that focuses on creating motivation for the human mind: Human Focused Design. Octalysis is currently the world leader in Human Focused Design, so Volkswagen Group turned to The Octalysis Group.


Human Focused Design

Every successful Octalysis design campaign starts with the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard, which connects business metrics, users, desired actions, feedback mechanics and incentives. This is an essential step in ensuring that the behavioral science we apply leads to an uptick in business metrics.

Through this process we came to know exactly what Volkswagen wanted from the new Reward and Loyalty Program design:

  • A fun, non-linear experience
  • Room for inclusion of multiple touchpoints for mobility services integration
  • Meaning and engaging social interaction.

Now we were ready to start thinking of features to drive user motivation for the desired actions needed to impact the business outcomes and the final desired end state. This strategy usually covers the whole customer journey – from first getting to know about the program to using it on a regular basis!


Examples from the Volkswagen Reward Program

Having a reward program is great – but how do you get people to sign up in the first place?

We needed to show that driving your car can be fun, and rewarding. We needed to separate the ‘old way of driving’ from the new and exciting Volkswagen experience. So our design for the marketing website for BONEO contrasted people having fun in the car, with people boring their pants of in traffic.

“Now you can have fun and earn rewards. Even in traffic!”

Because we limited the amount of users that could join the pilot in Austria, we created obsessive motivation for user sign ups through Octalysis Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience. After sign up, users got a secret code in their email inbox in the shape of a number plate. This Code would then open up the BONEO app, once downloaded.


Curating the very first experience

Once in the app, the fun had to start immediately. Most loyalty programs onboard you matter of fact like. You get your status, your first points and that’s it. You are on your way to collect and collect and collect points. A weak start and a rather boring journey from there onwards. Even this point, many reward programs already start losing their customers.

BONEO, in contrast, immediately rewards you with Award Points for inputting the right Secret Code, and within seconds your first car comes rolling into view. You now have your first Carvatar! Now you can drive around and explore. All drivers do a virtual test drive and discover the main functionality and experience the core activity loop. No need to get into a car, just drive on the map with your Carvatar.

These Carvatars are digital representations of users inside the app – much like a profile. However, users can upgrade their carvatar with digital items and even unlock better base models. One way to getting those upgrade are lootboxes –  a strong motivation for users to keep coming back.


Volkswagen Reward Lootboxes

While you ‘drive’ you see Map Secrets you can collect, and you get your first lootbox as well. Lootboxes drop frequently but irregularly after drives. They drop up to 6 items: experience points, award points, and cool items to improve your Carvatar.

Getting items to add to your car, like cooler wheels and headlights, are not just cosmetic additions. No, many items make your car more powerful in the experience. You can collect more Secrets and see more on the map. Things you collect (Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession) also give you strategic advantages (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). We have gone from getting just a few points, to actually having fun!


Now we are ready to commit to our longer term journey.


How to make loyalty engaging and financially attractive

As mentioned, most loyalty programs are linear, predictable and boring in design. It’s all, what we call in Octalysis, Left Brain (extrinsic) motivation. This is where short term motivation is born: the promise of a reward, collecting more and collecting with a time-constraint.

However, this is not where the fun is at. Fun happens when we focus on creativity, strategy, social interaction and unpredictability. We already introduced lootboxes and Map Secrets to engender unpredictability and curiosity. After doing a few drives, users now got introduced to the social aspects of BONEO. You can interact with other users on the map, and see how they are doing.

Now users can also participate in the monthly Occupy! Challenge. Drive through an area more than others for a week and occupy it for a month. Occupation gives you extra rewards and status. Occupy an area three times and own it for a year!


Driving Styles

There is also fun to be had in driving styles. Not only does the app know how much you have driven, but it also recognizes your driving style: Safe, Efficient and Dynamic. In German language these sound even more intriguing: Straßenhüter, Umweltchampion, Asphalt Cowboy.

Different styles get different attributes and boosters are design elements have also been implemented, and are things we can hopefully see emerge even more in the app in 2019. We’ll keep you posted!

Now you can start to form teams with people with the same driving style. Or opt for teams that have a mixed style. As a team you can conquer Map Challenges, similar to Boss Fights. Teams can be regional, national or international. Imagine conquering map objectives with team mates driving a car in Germany, Argentina and China! Loyalty is truly fun now.



Er…but where are the rewards?

Ha, don’t worry. Of course there are rewards. In fact, just by driving your car as you have always done, you can get FREE car cleaning, hot and cold drinks, VIP tickets to events and a free use of an elite Porsche car. We are sure many more things are in store in the future!

BONEO – the first gamified rewards program of the automotive industry

We have shown you some cool elements of the user journey above. However, we are not there yet by far and the program is evolving continuously and hopefully more interesting results. I would like to see more touchpoints with mobile services; more social interaction; more individual quests etc etc.

Stay tuned for more news about our designed programs.

If you are a company and want to know more about how we can also help you create truly engaging experiences for your users, please contact Thomas ( or Joris (

Leave a comment