Vernons and Littlewoods Pools

Vernons and Littlewoods Pools

Challenge

Prior to the launch of the National Lottery in the UK, the two leading brands that made up over 95% of the pools industry could boast market domination and a customer retention level in excess of 80% brand loyalty. At Vernons we participated in the strategic review of the business, prior to the launch of the lottery, based on market research and three business cases were established as a plan of the action, the worst being a drop in revenue over 12 months of 15%. The reality was that after the launch the business went into ‘free fall’ and was 50% down like for like within 6 months.

Assessment

As a precaution however, we had advised the business to capture all of the customer data for a period prior to the launch of the lottery so that in the event that this was needed it would at least be possible to target and re-activate past customers.

Our view was that the business needed a reward programme of some kind and, unusually that this should include some ‘back dated’ benefits to create an ‘amnesty’ to allow past players to come back, as well as recognise and reward loyal customers for staying with the business. The primary issue in this industry is that the prize size was known to be the main driver to repeat behaviour and, with massive fall-out, the prize pool would be hit and undermine the reason to play, potentially risking collapse of the business and potentially, the industry. The whole programme needed to be launched before the end of the football season in May as the further seasonal drop out could have been fatal for the business.

Solution

We designed a programme called Player’s Points and worked with the internal team to build and launch the programme within 6 weeks of the decision to implement it in March. In addition we worked on the existing direct player base to migrate as much business as possible into longer term entries and moving inertia by implementing more multi-week entries and direct debit payments. A series of customer journeys were defined and the reward programme was used to drive consumer behaviour towards more stable revenue.

Success

From the week the reward scheme was launched, the rate of decline in sales reduced and within a month had ‘bottomed out’. Subsequently the Vernons business was able to recruit customers and hold its position relative to market it gained some market share.

The Player's Points reward programme won an international award for Customer Retention and Relationship marketing and MIG’s Customer Farming process was born from this. Littlewoods then established the same reward programme and techniques for driving direct participation and ‘multi-week’ entries and then the two businesses combined to form the single entity that is the Football Pools today.

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