The term ‘Sweepstakes’ became really popular in the 1950s when people began to realize how advantageous the promise of a free prize was for sales and brand recognition. As a concept, the origin of an instant win sweepstakes is impossible to trace. Legend has it, that the world-famous Helen of Troy, was won by King Menelaus in a game of chance, aka, a sweepstakes!
In the early days of its rising popularity, when a company offered customers, a chance to win a prize/reward, they became more interested in learning more about the product being sold by the company. It was a simple way to increase sales and was much cheaper than running a traditional advertising campaign. For brands, it became apparent that running a sweepstakes was a great way to make a lot of noise on a small budget!
Cut to early 1970s, when scratch cards first made their presence felt in Massachusetts, via a lottery game. Scratch cards – a type of sweepstakes, where one could just scratch the silver panel and find out instantly what he/she had won. This was indeed, a first of its kind ‘instant win’ which became an instant hit!
Scratch n’ Win
As kids, if we found any stray scratch cards lying around the house, the next thing to do was find the nearest coin and scratch away the silver panel to reveal the mystery behind. Most of the time, the prize didn’t matter, the instinct to reveal what’s underneath was more dominant. Even today, scratch cards instill excitement in people, irrespective of the age group. From a brand’s perspective, scratch cards are a great way to reward trade or channel partners like retailers, technicians, and so on, who value hassle-free and functional rewards and trust an instant win format above any other promo format.
To quote a successful example, Reckitt Benckiser wanted to increase sales of two SKUs to retailers and wholesalers in order to acquire new territories. For this, we came up with an assured mobile recharge on every bulk pack of Ring Guard and Itch Guard. Five different recharge denominations were offered from Rs.20 to Rs.500 to make the offer more attractive. Surprise element was that they would know the recharge denomination only once they scratched the silver panel on the voucher. Retailers received an immediate recharge by sending an SMS, thus delivering instant gratification and contributing to the success of this campaign. Due to its success, the campaign was internationally recognized for B2B Trade Marketing Category and got repeated multiple times.
SMS & Win
Another rather old-school yet effective way to engage with customers using the instant win mechanic is running an SMS & Win promo. A simple ‘SMS & Win’ format can be used to increase your campaign’s coverage, especially with increasing penetration of mobile phones into all demographics of the Indian population. We see many brands in the FMCG space that run on-pack instant win promos powered by SMS mechanism. Since these products are found not only at high-end grocery stores, but also at paan shops, an SMS & Win is a perfect fit which spans diverse channels and can capture a wider demographic of TG.
To quote a recent example, Double mint ran an on-pack SMS-based instant win promo this year during Valentine’s, wherein just by sending an SMS, customers received an assured 1-month Gaana subscription. Also, every minute one lucky customer won a free ‘coffee date’ and had a chance to win a full-expense paid couple trip to Paris. A complex offer, executed simply and flawlessly using the SMS & Win format. With low set up costs and a comparatively wider reach, SMS & Win is one of the most popular instant win promos out there.
Web-based Instant Wins
Since the internet reached global masses, we started doing a lot of things differently. The way we wrote to each other, the way we searched for information, gaming, entertainment…. And, instant wins. Web-based instant win promos have now entered the mainstream, with brands designing a more visually appealing dialogue for the 21st century consumer. Innovative brand associations can be integrated into instant win promos via characters, brand mascots, movies… the list is endless. Customized mobile games, virtual fortune wheels, digital scratch cards, gamified microsites… that look awesome, speak the brand’s language and tick off instant win and gratification for a hard-to-please 21st century TG.
A great example for this was when Havells ran a gamified promo in the busiest marketing season in India, Diwali. Customers who purchased Havells grooming products could ‘open the door to happiness’ on a customized web-based microsite. Opening the door revealed rewards. Another such example of a web-based instant win was Bata, when they ran a spin-the-wheel promotion during Valentine’s Day period where customers could spin a virtual fortune wheel that led them to win assured rewards and grand prizes.
When sweepstakes started out, people had to fill out forms, read the official rules, fill out an address by hand, pay for postage, and send their entries in the mail – a rather time-consuming process. We’ve come a long way from that. Now, people can participate just by sending an SMS or at the click of a button! Instead of waiting for a win notification to arrive by mail, email or telephone, customers find out whether they’ve won or not in a matter of seconds. That’s the magic of the instant win concept – they’re easy to enter and a blast to win!
Adding an ‘instant win’ component to sweepstakes — also helps kill, what millennial marketers refer to as ‘sweepstakes burnout’. Instant win promos also help brands build trust, since a customer is notified instantly whether they’ve won or lost and, in many cases, gratified instantly which can be powered using digital rewards.