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Lottery tickets are purchased with dreams in mind. That dream may be the large, life-changing dream or it can be a smaller dream that consists of paying off bills, getting out of debt or doing something special for the family. These are key elements that resonate with Hispanic lottery players.
With more than 52 million Hispanics in the United States, we know their spending power is strong and growing, expected to hit $1.5 trillion in two years. The largest growth potential is among those aged 18-plus, which very well fits the model of the convenience store shopper whose profile is male and 18 to 34 years old.
It's important, however, to keep in mind that older consumers (Hispanic or not) continue to be the core audience for purchasing lottery tickets. For c-stores, this provides an excellent opportunity to maximize their potential to utilize lottery offerings to further draw Hispanics into the store by attracting and engaging younger players, while continuing to engage the older core player.
In drawing these players inside by enticing and engaging them with lottery chances, retailers can increase additional sales once they're in the store.
A 2012 Mintel report offered the following look at Hispanic c-store customers:
- Spanish language-dominant Hispanics are higher spenders on non-gasoline purchases.
- English language-dominant Hispanics tend to spend more on gasoline.
- A third of young Hispanic men shop at a c-store at least once a week.
The Arizona Lottery has been particularly successful at the c-store gas pump by incorporating specific lottery messaging to get people to come into the store during their gas purchases. This includes pumptoppers (a mini billboard on top of the pump), as well as a couple of other messages attached to the handle and the base of the hose.
The messaging can and should be conveyed in Spanish, as well as English whenever appropriate. The majority of the messaging has been in promotional support of various instant Scratcher games, of which Hispanic players have consistently been the biggest purchasers. By engaging and reminding these customers about the instant wins -- some of which are up to $1 million -- retailers can engage them further to venture inside the store and buy a ticket (hopefully more than one), thus allowing them to engage in other impulse buys while there.
Also, it's important to continue the consistency of the message as the potential player approaches the store. One tactic is the "Play Here" sign on the front door, in addition to larger posters facing outside. Spanish language is important here as well. However, a strong visual cue based on game brand recognition allows for maximizing the budget and speaks to players in both languages. Culturally speaking, the dream of winning can speak to any language. In the last year, the Arizona Lottery has been engaging with Spanglish messaging, in addition to the traditional either/or messaging.
Another area where the Arizona Lottery has had success drawing in more players to c-stores has been through promotional partnerships with professional sports teams. One specific promotion last summer was with the state's Major League Baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks (also known as Los D-Backs). This particular promotion involved purchasing a pair of lottery tickets, a six-pack of beer, a snack pack and tickets to a D-Backs game.
On a scheduled date, a promotional event was set up inside a c-store, creating buzz and spurring store sales with customers purchasing additional chances to win lottery swag and more tickets to other games and events -- not to mention all the other purchases that were made inside the store while this was going on.
Cross-promotion events such as this baseball promotion resonate with Hispanics very well. First of all, we all have those dreams of "winning the lottery" in one form or another. And let's not forget the draw of baseball. Hispanics love baseball. Just look at any major league roster and you'll see Hispanic representation from a variety of countries, as well as U.S.-born Hispanic players. Hispanics root for specific teams and players, and they loyally follow them.
A promotion like this provides an excellent means of driving potential customers (lottery players) to go inside the store. Once there, it's a matter of what you can do to spur additional purchases. These purchases can include beer, energy drinks, cold drinks, snacks, calling cards, etc. All of these are big sellers with Hispanics.
Flat video screens, known as ESMMs, provide the opportunity to highlight Scratcher games and jackpot triggers (reminder announcements of how high the jackpots are getting for the draw games). These screens are what many players look to when seeking a quick and reliable source of what the jackpots are and what's new on the game front. It's a good way of connecting with that impulse-to-buy instinct while in the store as customers approach the register. Spanish-language opportunities are a great way to hit that emotional feeling of "I've got to get my ticket," especially since these are highly visible with longer lines.
Lottery sales are dependent upon player/customer loyalty. Traditionally, Hispanics are loyal customers and brand advocates. With lottery tickets, we're selling dreams that have an excitement angle to them. Last summer, my firm did some consumer research with Hispanic lottery players and discovered that playing the lottery was more of a ritual and not viewed as gambling (that's left for casinos). Along with lucky numbers, what many are looking for are the "lucky stores," stores that have a higher win frequency.
Think of the crazy, record Powerball (a multistate game) mania that went on during May with the $590-million Powerball jackpot. The winner was in Florida. Can you imagine the halo effect that "lucky store" is experiencing since that drawing? It's a good idea to post enlarged color copies of winning tickets on the main door/window of the store. This creates additional buzz and adds to the mystique of "una tienda que tiene buena suerte" -- a store that has good luck.
Engage Hispanic lottery players into your store. These are your customers. By engaging them in an exciting manner that's relevant to them, they'll come in, spend money and more importantly, keep coming back.
Joe Ray is vice president of multicultural marketing at E.B. Lane, a full-service marketing and advertising agency with offices in Phoenix and Denver. He can be reached at [email protected].
Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.