Ohio Lottery

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Ohio Lottery: Innovative Research Design Drives Winning
>Abstract
The Ohio Lottery was originally developed as an additional source of public school funding. Today proceeds from lottery games annually provide approximately 7% of the public educational budget. This research was originally undertaken because the lottery director wanted a deeper understanding of lottery players and insight into nonplayers. The research design described in this case is multistage and incorporates the use of both qualitative and quantitative research. This case reveals the research that guides the current Ohio Lottery promotional program that encourages play of its various games.

>The Research
When the Ohio Lottery was first conceived, it was presented to the voters of Ohio as a way to provide supplemental funding for Ohio schools.1 The Ohio Lottery sold its first ticket in 1974. Currently, all profits go to the Ohio Lottery Education fund, which supplies about 7 % of the current education budget. Although Ohioans annually spend about $200 per capita on lottery tickets, in recent years the Ohio Lottery has suffered stagnant sales. The Ohio Lottery is interested in stimulating more play of lottery games.2 The process started in early January 2005 when the Ohio Lottery approached Marcus Thomas, LLC3 an agency that had worked with them before on media and research projects. “Rod Ingram (lottery director) basically wanted a deeper understanding of lottery players and insight into nonplayers,” explained Jennifer Hirt-Marchand, vice president of research for Marcus Thomas.4 “Rod had extensive demographic data on players, but it was obvious that what he needed was behavioral and psychographic information on both players and nonplayers.” “I had read extensively about the metaphor elicitation technique (MET) developed by Gerald Zaltman (professor, Harvard University),” said Hirt-Marchand. Because most human communication is nonverbal and metaphors are a key bridge between direct verbal communication and more impressionistic thoughts and feelings, the metaphor elicitation technique showed promise to unlock true motivations.5 “We didn’t have experience at that time with MET, but MRSI6 did. I asked them to provide a video of a MET interview and, after seeing it, I was convinced of its potential.” Thus, Marcus Thomas partnered with MRSI to determine “why players purchase tickets and other emotional factors that motivate consumers to purchase games.”7

Used with permission of Pamela S. Schindler. © 2006.

Business Research Methods, 11e, Cooper/Schindler

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Ohio Lottery: Innovative Research Design Drives Winning

Phase I—Qualitative—MET
Early in the research process, two additional agencies the Ohio Lottery had been using for creative development were called in. Because their work was also meant to stimulate demand for lottery tickets, input from these agencies was deemed critical to the overall success of the research project. “We wanted to get buy-in from them from the beginning,” explained HirtMarchand. It also helped that Ingram considered engagement with the research vitally important for each of its agencies. And each agency had numerous questions, among them: What is the understanding of the pay-out or odds and how relevant is this understanding to making a purchase? Are purchases of lottery tickets routine or impulsive? Are purchases perceived as recreation or gambling? What motivates play? How is winning defined? What is the influence of in-store promotion and signage? Is playing perceived as chance or skill? What is the significance of the dollar value of the ticket? “MET interviews are long, often 90 minutes or more,” said Hirt-Marchand.” “Lottery staffers and agency personnel were behind the one-way mirror at every session.” During April through June, a total of 25 interviews were conducted in three Ohio cities (Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati) to understand motivations for playing lottery games, to determine...
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