The digital world is ubiquitous and constantly evolving. With over 80% of the world owning a smart phone and ever-improving connectivity, it is at our fingertips most of the time.

The metaverse or meta universe, referred to by some as the Internet’s next frontier, focuses on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies within the current and future digital platforms. VR headsets, AR glasses, smart phones, and other devices allow users to enter 3-D environments where they can interact, work, visit remote locations, and learn in new and immersive ways.

According to Statista, a global provider of market and consumer data, it is estimated that by 2026 one quarter of the world’s population will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for digital activities including work, shopping, education, social interaction, or entertainment. Additionally, almost a third of global businesses are projected to have products and services ready for the metaverse by then.

As the number of digital consumers continues to grow in the lottery and sports betting sector, and the number of users of virtual platforms continues to grow worldwide, the metaverse offers opportunities to develop and enhance lottery products for players.

Digital world

There are many examples of how the real and virtual worlds blend in our lives. Throughout the global health crisis, VR meetings have saved the workplace through platforms like Zoom and Teams. But as the world gradually reopens, hybrid options will accommodate all workers. Some tech giants are already developing VR business meetings in the metaverse.

The idea is that your avatar – a figure that normally represents a person in a video game – sits at the table, enabling you to work from anywhere and still feel present with your colleagues. In the coming years, the scope of the metaverse will likely broaden to include socializing, shopping, and gaming.

Understanding changing consumer habits

Over the past two years, the global pandemic’s restrictive lockdown measures forced people to work, study, and spend a lot of time at home. It accelerated digitalization and redefined how we live our lives. As people looked to the online world for entertainment, businesses had to rethink operations and develop online products and services for people to enjoy from home.

Lotteries also found new ways to reach customers and continue their work of supporting good causes. As we enter the post-pandemic era it will be interesting to see what new habits are here to stay and what else is on the horizon. However, one thing the industry agrees on, is the importance of understanding players and putting their needs and wishes first.

Staying on top of trends

According to the Foresight Factory Trending 2022 report, though consumers have long sought ways to create digital identities through online platforms such as Facebook, gaming has taken this concept to another level with avatars that allow players to create their online identities to appear the way that they want. They can be enhanced using filters and gaming skins. A skin is a graphic or audio download which changes the appearance and character of avatars in video games.

Lotteries, omnichannel, and the metaverse

In a recent webinar on marketing trends held by the WLA and EL, speakers from the industry discussed their marketing strategies and how they are developing products that enhance player experiences in retail and digital channels.

Educating in the metaverse

Sharon Duncalf, Vice President, Global Insights & Planning at IGT, talked about recent consumer trends and what they could mean for the lotteries. Quoting the Trending 2022 report, she noted that 50% of consumers have bought, or are interested in buying, in-game items such as skins or characters.

As lotteries work towards achieving seamless omnichannel offerings, Duncalf stressed the importance of “embracing the metaverse as a channel for engagement and exploring how games and virtual worlds can help the lotteries engage with customers on a deeper more interactive level.”

She added that a ‘did you know’ ad that promotes good causes in the virtual world, provides lotteries with a unique platform to market their corporate social responsibility initiatives and win new customers.

Additionally, an IGT report entitled Lottery and the metaverse, emphasizes the importance of data, which links information with the metaverse, and that lotteries are in a strong position to leverage their player data thanks to the work done over the years to establish player trust and confidence.

Omnichannel promotional code

Speaker Shannon DeHaven, Vice President of Digital Engagement at Pollard Banknote Limited, cited an example of the omnichannel strategy at Michigan Lottery, which develops retail and digital offerings that complement each other.

Instant tickets with a promotional code are sold at the retailer. Players who purchase these tickets can then sign up online for a Michigan Lottery account, for which they would receive free iLottery games. Players who subsequently make a first-time deposit to continue playing iLottery games receive a coupon that can only be redeemed at the retailer.

“The player’s journey begins at the retailer, it takes them online, and then brings them back to the retailer. This deliberate crossing of channels is aimed at giving players a choice of where they can play, while allowing them to see the value of each sales channel”, said DeHaven.

A physical store with digital and paper products

Another example where lotteries are crossing retail and online channels is the Washington Lottery’s retail outlet called the Department of Imagination, which combines operations, education, and ticket sales under the same roof.

The venue can host regional promotions and engage with lottery players, to provide more education about what the lottery does and the causes that it supports. The outlet is equipped with a large interactive video screen and visitors are sent notifications of sales, jackpot figures, and new products as they approach certain touchpoints within the store. It also offers the Washington Lottery the chance to engage with players and learn about their habits, what they expect, and the types of games they would like to see developed.

Photo by Julien Tromeur on Unsplash