Supersize My Chances: Promotional lotteries impact product size choices, researchers find
New research published in Journal of Consumer Psychology out of Schulich School of Business has regulatory implications for gaming industry
June 25, 2018 – Promotional lotteries might change people’s purchasing behaviour, prompting them to upsize their product choices, apparently in the mistaken belief they will increase their chances of winning, new research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology has found.
Consumers seem to love a chance to win prizes and many companies satisfy this desire by running promotional lotteries, which offer consumers a chance to win a prize with their purchase. As a recent example, Doritos ran the “Win Every Hour” contest, which gives consumers a chance to win an Xbox with each purchase of a bag of chips. Similarly, the coffee chain Tim Hortons annually conducts their “Roll-Up-The-Rim” campaign, with each cup of coffee purchased offering consumers a chance to win one of the available prizes, ranging from a hot beverage to a new car.
Offering a range of progressively more valuable prizes is used to spur interest in buying more, as well as making purchases more often, but it appears that promotional lotteries might actually be changing people’s purchasing behaviour, according to new research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Theodore J. Noseworthy and Nükhet Taylor at the Schulich School of Business with Ethan Pancer at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University.
During Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up-The-Rim campaign, anecdotal evidence suggests that purchases of larger products (e.g., an extra-large cup) seem to increase during the campaign relative to normal operations. Despite each cup size having the same objective odds of winning prizes, customers seem to behave as if larger sizes bring better odds. The investigation focused on validating the supersizing anecdote during promotional lotteries and, if so, to develop a better understanding of why this happens.
The studies, conducted at Schulich’s NOESIS: Innovation, Design, and Consumption Laboratory at Schulich School of Business, used fictitious promotional lotteries for real brands (e.g., McDonalds, Starbucks, Tim Hortons’, Lay’s chips) to demonstrate that consumers indeed tend to supersize their product choices during these campaigns. Ultimately, the researchers found that consumers mistakenly believe that the largest product offers the best odds of winning the grand prize, not just any prize. Experimental evidence also demonstrated that the very act of supersizing helps people feel like they have more control and better odds of winning the grand prize. Simply elevating a person’s general sense of control eliminated their desire to supersize in a promotional lottery.
“Our research documents how the mere presence of a promotional lottery can drive consumers to supersize their purchases by an average of 16.4%,” said Theodore J. Noseworthy, Scientific Director of the NOESIS: Innovation, Design, and Consumption Laboratory, Canada Research Chair, Entrepreneurial Innovation and the Public Good, and Associate Professor of Marketing at Schulich School of Business at York University. “Given the negative implications of frequently supersizing product choices, such as obesity and wastefulness, more research is needed to explore whether changing the regulations or structure around promotional lotteries might reduce this tendency. It is also important for businesses to understand this phenomenon, as well as for consumers to understand the possible influence that promotional lotteries may have on their behaviour.”
Click here to view a video describing the research. For a copy of this new study or to arrange an interview with Theodore Noseworthy, please contact Beth Marlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-717-6278.