Case Study: Vitality Squares – A Wellness Game of Chance

Case Study: Vitality Squares – A Wellness Game of Chance


Will You Take the Chance to be Healthy? 

Aligned with our vision to make people healthier, our team is constantly introducing new ways to engage Vitality members in healthy activities through behavioral economic approaches and incentives. Vitality is an international, comprehensive and personalized wellness program, which from its origins in the 1990s incorporated basic gaming elements of points, status and awards. As we evolve we continue to ask ourselves: What mechanisms encourage our members to participate and get healthier? And moreover, how do we sustain and increase engagement over time?

To that end, we introduced Vitality Squares early in 2013, as an online health-themed game of chance that can be played by members once a month to earn points. We use it as an additional nudge towards healthier behavior, specifically healthy eating in its current iteration, as well as overall engagement in Vitality. Our goal was to keep it simple, short and fun, and leave members wanting to play again. How the game works:

  • Once each month members — who have taken their Vitality Health Review ™*— have the opportunity to play. In addition to winning up to 50 Vitality Points, they might also win a CharityChoice, iTunes, Starbucks or other gift card valued at $5, $15 or $500.

  • In the current version members are presented with 12 squares (turned face down), of which 6 represents healthy food options (fruits) and 6 represent less desirable choices (doughnuts, pizza, etc).

  • Selecting a ‘square’ with a hidden fruit represents a win, and the more fruit selected, the higher the winnings become. Your Vitality Status determines how many squares you get to flip, further linking the game to overall and sustained healthy behavior.

  • A low engaged (Bronze) member can select one square, so anyone playing the game has at least a one-in-two chance of winning. In addition, everyone gets fun facts or advice on good health and nutrition.

The overall number of games played each month has exceeded our expectation. In less than a year (from last March to December), more than 200,000 games have been played, four and a half million points earned and over 16,000 gift cards awarded. It is also delightful to see the high frequency of games played the 1st of every month, which has lead to us internally referring to it as “Vitality Squares Day”!

Watch a Vitality member turn over all six health squares and win the grand prize! (The video is on the long side, but the ending is worth watching.)

To us Vitality Squares is one more ingredient in a recipe for overall program success and sustained engagement. Health promotion and wellness can never be about one activity or simply participating in a steps challenge – it needs to be an ongoing commitment.

*The Vitality Health Review, a proprietary, interactive health risk assessment, is built around fourteen modifiable health risk factors that can be controlled through healthy lifestyle choices. The VHR gathers self-reported and verified member information on these risk factors and develops a profile of unique health risk characteristics for each member.

How do you use games to promote health in the workplace? Tweet at us @thevitalitygrp or @VitalityInst

Francois Millard is Chief Actuarial Officer of The Vitality Group and a member of the Vitality Institute.

Cover Image by The Reboot



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