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The gamification of trust: the case of China’s “social credit”

Zahy Ramadan (Department of Hospitality and Marketing, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 24 November 2017

Issue publication date: 2 January 2018




China is establishing a social credit rating system with the aim to score the trust level of citizens. The scores will be based on an integrated database that includes a vast range of information sources, rating aspects like professional conduct, corruption, type of products bought, peers’ own scores and tax evasion. While this form of gamification is expected to have dire consequences on brands and consumers alike, the literature in that particular area of interest remains non-existent. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


A conceptual framework is suggested that highlights early on the risks and implications on brands and companies operating in that particular upcoming landscape.


The gamification of trust that the social credit system focuses on presents potential risks on brand and consumer relationships. This in turn will affect brand sustainability vis-à-vis the expected drastic changes in the Chinese business landscape. This study suggests the strategies to follow which will be of high interest to companies, consumers, as well as to the Chinese authorities during and after implementation stage.


This paper is amongst the first to discuss the potential effects of the Chinese social credit rating system on brands. The conceptual framework fills a sizeable gap in the literature and pioneers the discussion on potential dilemmas brands will be faced with within this new business landscape.



Ramadan, Z. (2018), "The gamification of trust: the case of China’s “social credit”", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 93-107.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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