BCLC: Moving Past Perception and Marketing on Purpose

An op-ed from BCLC Chief Social Purpose Officer Peter ter Weeme

As new generations become old enough to partake in the lottery, lotteries around the world are learning how to communicate with a new demographic of customers. Moreover, they are learnings that younger generations are increasingly concerned their beliefs and values are reflected in their commercial choices. British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) Chief Social Purpose Officer and Vice President, Player Experience Peter ter Weeme, addresses how BCLC is addressing this issue through a mix of research and action.

Buying based on belief is the new norm and businesses in every industry are facing a new reality. In this era of change, consumers are seeking stronger connections with brands than ever before. They want to know how businesses are making a difference by contributing to social good. Now, consumers see the opportunity to effect change with every dollar.

As a result, more companies are modeling their strategy around a social purpose and aiming to create a better world through their core business operations. As a social purpose gambling entertainment company, the BCLC is one of them, having started its journey to “generate win-wins for the greater good” in 2021.

That puts BCLC in a unique and interesting position. Undeniably, we are situated in a competitive industry that some consumers may associate with social harm. BCLC has long been consumed with the implications of that – and has long been learning to balance high-value entertainment with world-class player health resources. While people may have certain perceptions about gambling and entertainment, BCLC is in the process of moving beyond those perceptions and showing that the pivot to social purpose is something that any company can do. In our view, we can transform gambling from vice to virtue.

In the process of embedding social purpose into our organization, BCLC has commissioned several studies to learn how other purpose-driven companies have successfully translated their purpose into every level of their business. For the first study, we asked Forrester Consulting Ltd. to look at the ways that marketing teams help activate a brand’s purpose.

Marketing on Purpose: What Marketing Looks Like in the Purpose-Driven Enterprise is Forrester’s final report. Reminding readers that social purpose requires a consistent strategy and a long-term outlook, the report provides BCLC and other companies with eight recommendations to help marketing teams make the shift. Ultimately, it delivers a roadmap for bringing purpose to the marketing process – but there are broad lessons within that we believe are relevant and valuable to the gambling community. For example:

Marketing’s job is to influence behaviour, not values. Values are very personal and difficult to change. Instead of trying to judge or alter values belonging to our stakeholders, we should get to know them, meet them where they’re at, and find commonality. When we know where we agree, we are better equipped to create an incentive and motivate behaviour.

Be transparent every step of the way – both internally and externally. In this new context, customers are seeking transparency and authenticity from us – and when they believe our messages don’t align with our actions, they’re quick to call it out. In those instances, it’s important to take responsibility and admit our mistakes quickly. By being transparent along the way, we can build a trusting relationship with our customers, which helps our brands become more resilient in the face of crisis.

Beyond the recommendations it makes, Marketing on Purpose provides other valuable direction. BCLC is focused on generating win-wins, bringing our social purpose to life at all levels of our business, including within our marketing processes, and moving beyond those preconceptions about the gambling industry. By sharing this knowledge with our peers in the industry, we’re also hopeful that the lessons in the paper can help our industry respond to this dynamic and developing environment of consumer behaviour. It might even encourage other companies to join the movement by making the same social purpose transformation – and helping us move the needle when it comes to public perception.

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