Ont. Lottery advances pen, tickets as incentives

Ontario Lottery won big last year in its attempt to attract new subscribers to its Lotto Advance service by offering a premium and an incentive that were relevant to the product being sold.An upscale pen and a sample package of instant...

Ontario Lottery won big last year in its attempt to attract new subscribers to its Lotto Advance service by offering a premium and an incentive that were relevant to the product being sold.

An upscale pen and a sample package of instant win tickets encouraged consumers to subscribe to the Lotto Advance service, according to Paul MacMahon, vice-president and general manager of Toronto-based Gaylord Direct Communications, which developed the program for the corporation.

Lotto Advance, launched in June 1992, is a subscription service for Lotto 6/49 players.

Subscribers’ numbers are automatically played in each 6/49 draw, for terms of three, six or 12 months.

The purpose of the service is to provide convenience for players. They no longer need to line up to buy tickets and are automatically notified of their winnings.

MacMahon says the first plank in the incentive program kicked off with an unaddressed mailing in May 1993. The mailing was targetted to households in postal walks that were identified as having above average potential for Lotto Advance.

Half got offer

While half of the prospects received no offer, the other half received one for a free Mont Blanc-style pen in return for subscribing to the service.

The pen offer proved to be successful, significantly outdrawing response to the control package and indexing at 157, or pulling in 57% more responses than if the offer had not been made.

‘We were very happy with those numbers,’ says John Wisternoff, product manager for Lotto Advance at Ontario Lottery.


‘Part of the reason for the success of the pen offer was that it was relevant to the product,’ Wisternoff says. ‘It was a good fit, both in terms of cost and image, and it could easily be mailed.’

MacMahon agrees.

He says premiums and incentives should either be relevant to the product being sold or emphasize one or more of the product’s benefits.

He says, in this case, a pen would be particularly appropriate because subscribers could use it while filling out subscription forms, or filling in their ticket selection boards.

According to Wisternoff, the pen was also chosen because its ‘upscale’ characteristics would fit well with Lotto Advance’s target market, which includes mid-to-upper-income, well-educated consumers with a slight male skew.

MacMahon says, as well, the pen photographed well and corresponded with the brochure copy, which read ‘Write Your Own Ticket.’

Lower commitment

Mailing results showed the premium offer generated a lower average dollar commitment by subscribers than if a premium had not been offered.

‘Not surprisingly, the average subscription value was lower,’ MacMahon says. ‘Obviously, you would expect some people coming into the program as a result of the incentive, and that they would spend less than those who are already committed to playing 6/49.’

However, he says, even though the average subscription value was lower, it generated 40% more revenue for the olc than if the pen offer had not been made.

MacMahon says it is important the value of the premium be relative to the value of the product.

He puts it this way:

‘If there is too much emphasis on the incentive or premium, people might be ordering it just to get the incentive rather than the product you are really selling. The whole point of either a premium or incentive is to get them to try the product itself.’

Even though the pen offer had exceeded response expectations, Gaylord followed up with an incentive more directly related to the lottery in November last year.

This time, a package of Instant Win games called the Instant Win Sample Pack – including two Lottario tickets with a chance to win up to $250,000, and two Stocking Stuffer tickets with chances to win free merchandise and up to $25,000 – rolled out in selected postal routes across the province.

The mailing methodology matched that for the pen, with the incentive being offered to half of the possible respondents.

Focus groups

‘The idea came out of focus groups,’ Wisternoff says.

‘It was particularly relevant to the product because we were cross-promoting the various lotteries and encouraging sampling, while encouraging subscribers to dream about the big win,’ he says.

This time, response was overwhelming: the tickets indexed at 202, pulling in more than double the responses of the pen offer.

MacMahon says the instant win tickets package was more successful than the pen offer because it related more directly to the core product that they were selling.