How do you fix a problem like Big Wednesday? You focus on the jackpot.
Back in 2011, New Zealand Lotteries made some significant changes to its mid-week game Big Wednesday in an effort to put it back into growth and deliver on its ultimate aim of giving $184 million back to the community in FY13. The changes had been expensive and time consuming. And they didn’t work. In fact, not only were the post re-launch sales below expectations, in most weeks they were actually lower than sales experienced before the game changes.
Big Wednesday was becoming the reason sales targets across the business were not being met. So the team had to go back to the drawing board and try something new. The problem was that it had effectively already tried everything that was proven to work both overseas and in New Zealand. So convincing the board to make further changes to the $100 million business and allocate more resource to comms so soon after the last push was a tough sell.
To figure out what to do, it asked two big questions: 1) What is the most attractive part of Big Wednesday in players’ minds? 2. Does an increase in Big Wednesday sales have a negative effect on sales of its weekend jackpot game, Powerball? And the answers: 1) big jackpots and 2) not really.
NZ Lotteries found most of its players had a threshold at which they were able to justify buying a ticket in the hope of winning an absurd amount of money, so if it was big mid week and at the weekend, they bought two tickets, which was exactly the opposite of what the organisation was afraid of. This all led it to one simple thought: rather than continuing to focus its marketing efforts on differentiating the two games, they should bring them closer together, effectively repackaging Big Wednesday to focus on what players really wanted to hear about.
This meant making a small yet critical change: the prizes would be included in the overall jackpot amount, therefore making the amount up for grabs the central focus, rather than the cars, baches and boats that had been used to promote the ‘Ultimate Lifestyle’.
A new approach to communications was also required to support this change. It included television, radio, and online support, as well as the introduction of a much more retail-focused campaign and shorter, sharper media space booked to deliver a simple message: a life-changing jackpot amount, every week.
The stores also played a big role in this change, so network-wide communications and instore support was required to educate its 1200-strong retail network (the biggest in the country) and POS was designed to be big and bold, hammering the message home to players.
The goal was simple: get more people playing Big Wednesday. And that’s exactly what happened. From August to April following the change, on average an additional 200,000 people per month bought a ticket. It’s as if the whole of Otago decided to start playing Big Wednesday at the same time. NZ Lotteries is also currently on track to smash its business target for the financial year, largely due to the huge increase in Big Wednesday sales. After the changes, this increase is evident even in the lowest jackpot weeks, with significantly higher sales for all jackpot amounts.
The most important picture though, is when you look at a jackpot run over a 16-week period before the change and compare it to a similar jackpot run after the change. The result is profound. And while there was a massive increase in Big Wednesday sales, sales for a base $4 million Powerball week only dropped back by two percent, versus the same year-to-date period last year.
NZ Lotteries took a risk in going back to its jackpot roots. And that risk well and truly paid off.