Want to track how many calories you burned on your lunch run? There’s an app for that. Want to turn your face into an Emoji? There’s an app for that. Want to kill time by making patterns out of different colors of candy? There’s an app for that, and it’s quite popular, in fact. Candy Crush Saga, the most popular gaming app in the United States, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study, attracts close to 14% (about 1 out of every 7) of US online smartphone owners. On average, users access the app almost every other day, and when they do, they spend more than a half an hour per day using it. That’s more time than users spend on any social networking app, even Facebook.

Spending this much time using a gaming app is not unique to Candy Crush. Gaming apps frequently make it to the top of the list when sorting by time spent per day. Juice Cubes, another gaming app, keeps users engaged for an average of 37 minutes per day, 3 days per week. Who are these gamers, and where do they get the time?

They aren’t a minority. More than half of US online smartphone owners play games using an app on their smartphones. User demographics can vary drastically by the app. Two-thirds of Candy Crash Saga players are female, while for Slotomania, the opposite is true. Pet Rescue Saga players are younger than Words with Friends players. Games provide users with entertainment in times during dull moments, especially when on the go. Given that games make up close to 10% of all the time spent on apps on a smartphone, we may have something to learn.

Gamification is working. Digital teams at leading banking and wealth management firms have seen positive results when introducing game mechanics (see our Digital Financial Services Teams Should Embrace Game Mechanics report). For example, Commonwealth Bank of Australia created a digital world in which customers could practice buying and selling property without the risk of losing any money. The game encouraged enough players to purchase real loans that translated to an ROI of 413%. It’s not just banking that can benefit. Chiquita was able to attract 8,000 unique visitors to its site after creating a game where consumers could win badges for learning about its products (see our Gamification Of Marketing Strategies Boosts Consumer Engagement report).

Introducing game-like elements in the form of points, leaderboards, badges, or more subtle elements like completing tasks can offer numerous benefits. Done correctly, this investment can increase loyalty, steer customer behavior, and improve the digital customer experience. So the next time a consumer reaches for their smartphone to relieve boredom, give them a reason to be entertained by your app.