Susan and I just returned from the annual pilgrimage to London for its battery of trade shows and conferences. Our week began on Monday Feb 4 with client meetings that last into the evening. On Tuesday and Weds is the annual Marketing Seminar, produced by the European Lottery Association (EL) and the World Lottery Association (WLA). While the focus is on Europe, this seminar has become an important bellwether for the global industry. This year theme being “Marketing in the Brave New World”, the focus was on some ongoing challenges like leveraging our strengths in the multi-jurisdictional jackpot games, positioning for more and better collaboration on multi-jurisdictional initiatives, maximizing growth in a world where sustainability has assumed preeminence, and “back-to-basics” themes that continue to drive lottery revenues and profits.
But mostly this Seminar is about more recent and forward-leaning issues, like data analytics to convert the vast amount of market and customer data into a comprehensible roadmap that produces better strategic planning and marketing decisions; getting out in front of nascent consumer trends; homing in on the “moment of truth” when the buying decision is actuated; the morphing of “demographics” into “psychographics” which yield a more accurate picture of how the market is segmenting itself in reality as opposed to our analytical modeling; a clever coalescence of social media with traditional consumer behavior in “A return of Nostalgia and Authenticity in Advertising”. The Joint EL/WLA Marketing Seminar is produced by Bernadette Lobjois and her team at the EL, moderated and MC’d by the inimitable Ray Bates (honorary president of the EL and former CEO of the Ireland Lottery), with support from the leadership of the WLA as well as the EL. Like ICE Totally Gaming, this Marketing Seminar is becoming a global event.
On Weds and Thursday, we conducted a series of interviews at ICE Totally Gaming. A big topic of discussion was the implications of Scientific Games’ acquisition of WMS, and GTECH’s management re-organization around markets as opposed to product categories. Tangential to these events is the topic of facilitating progress and innovation in the industry. Dominant systems suppliers like Scientific Games, GTECH, and INTRALOT are augmenting their ability to deliver value to their customer, expanding both vertically (up and down the supply chain), and horizontally (expanding into new product categories). Broadening their capabilities and resources enables them to deliver new products and innovative business process solutions to their customers. But at the same time, lottery operators need to be assured of a smooth path for innovation to come from other suppliers as well. Fortunately, part of the answer lies within those dominant systems suppliers who are as committed as anyone to the growth and prosperity of the government-gaming industry. My discussions with industry leaders from all different sides of this equation indicate that we’re all in agreement. The healthy 21st century industry is one that thrives on dynamic process that is free to form new connections, replacing legacy structure with an ever-changing inter-networked set of relationships. I realize it’s true that the “devil is in the details”, and that there sometimes lies a big chasm between agreement in principle and actual alignment of purpose and action plans. But agreement in principle is a great place to start and ushers in the process working out the details of implementation. So let’s get started!
Do you notice the ad’s from oil and energy companies that are promoting their value system and Social Responsibility? It brings to mind that Michael Porter keynote speech at the WLA Summit in Montreal last September. He reinvents the concept of “corporate social responsibility”. Instead of a PR strategy, he talks about how it is being used by forward-leaning companies to create an underlying affiliation with the customer that yields positive ROI in a very material way. He calls it “Creating Shared Value” and it leaped to mind when I keep seeing these image ad’s from oil and energy companies. One ad’, for example proclaims “Drill the right way or no way at all. We agree.” Others attempt to be genuinely educational with no apparent commercial agenda. Why couldn’t and shouldn’t we come together as an industry to fund an ambitious Creating Shared Value campaign like that? It would clearly be quite expensive. But, to my mind, the need is quite pressing. Do the general public and the shapers of public policy appreciate the difference between commercial casinos/private online gambling operators which serve no purpose other than to enrich private shareholders (yes, I know they pay taxes, but that is a tiny fraction of the amount paid by lotteries) and government gaming operators which do so much more to help society? Isn’t this a universal issue, one that is shared by all government-gaming operators and lotteries? Shouldn’t this be a massive national campaign that we could all easily agree on? Every jurisdiction all around the world that cares about preserving its right to manage public and regulatory policy should want to promote public awareness for these issues. In addition to the efforts that many lotteries already engage in, wouldn’t it be great to have a huge national image-building campaign?