Lottery & Gaming Research Redefined: How to Meet New Consumers on Their Own Turf
“The following article was first published in the January/February 2018 issue of NASPL’s Insights magazine, and is reproduced here with permission. Copyright North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. All rights reserved.” For the original article, please visit page 16: https://www.nasplmatrix.org/insights?i=70
At my market research firm, we specialize in finding out just what makes the consumer tick – what drives purchases, where does the shopper journey take them and just how it all affects brands and marketers. Consumers expect seamless, omni-channel interactions with companies that reflect their values and listen to their input. They want personalized communications in their medium of choice – email, text, apps, phone and more. These needs and desires spill over into the top of the research funnel.
Currently, Lottery and gaming research is stuck somewhere in the middle when it comes to outreach. For example, phone is still a common practice used by Lotteries because it still provides the most peace of mind on state representation, although some states have migrated to mixed methodology of online and phone. State populations, demographics and budget all vary widely, so even though phone is costly, sometimes it is the only option for reaching quotas. There is no magic bullet.
Our Consumer is Evolving, So Must We
However, as researchers, we must eventually bring it back around to the consumer. Technology and consumer attitudes and behaviors will continue to evolve in ways that affect the gaming industry and its market research practices. When the gaming industry thinks about research design, it is important to keep in mind that consumers are used to technology and solutions that make their lives easier. Attention spans are down and convenience is expected with every interaction. Intrinsically, this means that the number of people that answer phone surveys are becoming smaller as well and may not be entirely representative we look to the future.
What’s the first step in obtaining quality data from our research samples? We meet them on their own turf.
- Online: According to recent research 88.5% of Americans have access to the internet compared to only 52% in the year 2000.
- Smartphone: Smartphone adoption has grown even faster than internet adoption with 2% having of Americans having a smartphone in 2005 and 81% now. Apps dominate with 89% of consumer media time in mobile apps vs. 11% in mobile web according to latest statistics by Nielsen.
- Phone: A new survey by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that majority of American homes had only wireless telephones, with than 70 percent of adults between 25 and 34 years old living in wireless-only homes.
- Mail: By far the costliest (and slowest) of outreach methods, experts have varying opinions on the effectiveness and response rate expectations for paper outreach. It is definitely an antiquated approach, but can still reach some populations.
The bottom line is that we need to get the highest number of responses from a representative sample in order to have solid data quality. When thinking about research design, consumer needs must be considered. They are used to a seamless, service-oriented approach that give them a good experience. As a society, we are becoming more irritated by little inconveniences. A sharply decreasing number of people are willing to spend 20 minutes on a phone call without a clear benefit to them.
Moving Toward a Consumer-First Approach
So how do Lotteries and gaming leaders still get the reliable data and insights needed to ensure that investments in games, purchase channels, and marketing meet new consumer demands? It depends on where current strategies are positioned. Here are some ways to start to pivot and find better ways to garner insights.
- Weaning off Phone Research: Start by performing parallel testing to address concerns of representation and understand how it compares to past data. From our experience, there will be some differences when you change approaches and to account for those differences we recommend conducting online data calibrations so data can still be tracked over time as needed. As discussed above, consumers want to respond via the medium with which they are most comfortable. Studies show that’s probably not the phone anymore, so to reach these important groups strategies need to shift.
- Finding the Right Panel: Those currently using online sample need to think about online sample acquisition beyond traditional panels for representation– need to keep in mind how sample is sourced to ensure representation. By pulling from more types of panels, you allow for representation of customers beyond those who opt in to be part of traditional panel. Multi-source and points-based panels generally include younger target groups, plus those who we intercept during a search experience (not part of a traditional panel to widen scope of customers).
- Utilizing Online Communities: Sometimes, in this industry, we need a quick turnaround: to get customer feedback on Lottery/gaming brand and sentiment, messaging, public relations and more using qualitative and quantitative research designs. Online communities – branded or unbranded – provide a cost efficient way to get feedback from any group we want, targeting them as needed for all types of research. As states move toward online gaming, it makes sense to turn to online research (including use of communities) to get at this group’s voice.
- Implementing Mobile Geofencing: This is becoming increasingly effective way to capture the voice of the customer at moment of purchase. We now are able to get specific groups (e.g. types of players, demographics, etc.) by geofencing a specific location/area where Lottery games are played/sold and get at-the-moment purchase sentiment, spend and other data points. This would be an effective way to understand Casual players and spend more accurately and be able to tie it back to any internal data.
- Stakeholder Involvement: At our firm, we emphasize the importance of upfront planning and communication before getting lost in the weeds of tactics such as scheduling, budgeting and timelines. Communicating larger goals and desired outcomes clearly from the beginning is vital to success. This applies to all industries, and Lotteries can also benefit from this approach. Involving all stakeholders – research, product team, advertising – to form an agreement on strategy and buy-in is critical.
Like so many other industries, Lotteries and the gaming industry need to pursue a consumer-first strategy when it comes to market research. By meeting respondents on their own turf and utilizing new techniques, we can start to get the data quality needed to continue moving into the gaming future.
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