Cape Cod Startup PartingGift Looks to Gamify Market Research

8/9/11Follow @xconomy

What do running a farm, being a mobster, and taking orders at the drive-through at Dunkin’ Donuts all have in common?

They’re all experiences simulated on Facebook, thanks to game developers Zynga (maker of Mafia Wars and Farmville) and a much newer startup, PartingGift, which operates in a Massachusetts area not exactly known as a tech hub: Hyannis on Cape Cod.

Haven’t heard of the Dunkin’ Donuts game? Called On Your Mark, it debuted on the first of this month and lives on Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook fan page. The game interface pushes an image of a coffee cup along a virtual coffee assembly, with stations for flavor, sweetener, milk, and brew, with a virtual customer’s order. The player is responsible for correctly filling the order in the allotted one minute. The orders become bigger and the cups move faster as the players hit higher levels of the game. Ten players a day have the chance to each win $10 gift cards to Dunkin’.

On Your Mark does more than waste hours of the players’ time and earn the game developer money in the process, though, says PartingGift founder and CEO Brad Crowell.

“The whole game platform was designed with research in mind; there’s a strong data-collection component that’s part of our platform,” Crowell says.

See, On Your Mark starts off by asking the player to input their favorite Dunkin’ Donuts beverage to make at the virtual drive-through.

“We are looking to figure out what people’s preferences are in terms of beverages—that’s sort of the starting point of being able to understand what we can do with those preferences,” Crowell says. “We’re working with Dunkin’ on multiple games, building on that sort of information.”

He says he got the idea for the company four or so years ago, after automakers like Ford released online apps where consumers … Next Page »

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