BCLC Wants To Be Known As A Social-Purpose Organization

Written By Jose Colorado on November 30, 2022
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation commissioned an in-depth study to help it transition into an organization that improves lives.

The lottery in British Columbia wants to challenge conventional wisdom in the gambling industry.

Earlier this year the British Columbia Lottery Corporation commissioned Forrester Consulting Ltd. for an in-depth study on social-purpose organizations.

Entitled Marketing on purpose: What marketing looks like in the purpose-driven enterprise, the 20-page report interviewed 11 marketing leaders across the world. Of those, each interviewee had an organization whose declared focus centred around social purpose.

In the end, the Crown corporation wanted to know how others made the jump to a social purpose organization – and how it could too.

Eight key recommendations were made.

However, Bridget Russo – one of the study participants – said an entire cultural shift is needed before anything else.

“It’s not just a thing for the marketing department or for the HR department. It really has to be embedded internally before you can even think about executing or communicating it externally.”

BCLC attempts to shift focus to social purpose organization

In the report – which took nearly a year-and-a-half to complete – Forrester defines social purpose companies as organizations “whose enduring reason for being is to create a better world.”

Essentially, these firms are universally regarded as a positive force in society since their businesses create consistent social benefits.

On the one hand, it could be argued BCLC has already achieved this. Consider gambling proceeds are used to fund provincial priorities including health care, education and infrastructure. In fact, since its creation in 1985, BCLC has contributed more than $26 billion in net income for provincial, community and charitable B.C.-based programs.

However, due to political blowback, often times lotteries will use standard social corporate responsibility marketing tactics to douse the flames.

Indeed, there is no denying many would view a gambling corporation as the antithesis of ‘social good.’ After all, BCLC’s primary purpose for existence was to combat the sinister nature (e.g., crime, addiction, laundering) often associated with gambling and casinos.

BCLC: Forrester report will help us better tell our stories, reach audience

According to the BCLC, consumers need to see lotteries as an engine for good rather than a necessary evil in society. They need to see BCLC as a social-purpose organization.

Peter ter Weeme BCLC’S chief social purpose officer and vice president, player experience said Forrester’s report will help BCLC better understand how to do this.

“The knowledge and recommendations in this report can enhance the way we collectively tell our stories and reach our audiences, further advancing the social purpose community and encouraging new companies to consider the same transformation.

“Together, we can work in tandem toward addressing society’s challenges of today – toward the greater good.”

Forrester recommends eight key recommendations, three cultural shifts

Forrester’s report makes one thing clear: BCLC can do better in its marketing efforts.

To achieve that though, three fundamental shifts in culture and behaviour are needed:

  • Move away from product-service focus to customer obsession
  • Systematically build trust with all stakeholders (e.g., customers, employees, community)
  • Shift marketing philosophy from selling to building a movement centred around firm’s declared social purpose

Eight other key recommendations included:

  1. Ensure executives lead and embody the organization’s social purpose
  2. Systematically embed ethics into marketing process
  3. Marketing’s job is to influence behaviour, not values
  4. Measure what matters
  5. Always be transparent – both internally and externally
  6. Be consistent in words and actions
  7. Embed deep listening into marketing teams
  8. Produce rich and thoughtful content

Buyer habits impacted by connection with brands more than ever

BCLC produced $1.314 billion in net income to the province and federal government in 2021 – 2022. So, the organization isn’t exactly hurting financially – but Forrester says a revaluation is still necessary.

According to them, patrons are paying more attention than ever to the role companies and organizations are playing in society. In fact, the consulting firm states in 2017, 57% of global consumers admitted to buying or boycotting brands due to political or societal issues.

In recent years, Forrester says that number has likely increased significantly. Since COVID-19 hit, societal movements have been aplenty with everything from anti-racist protests to climate change demonstrations taking place.

Some companies have responded by remaining focused on the bottom line. Others have emerged with a strong intention on marketing their social purpose. Weeme wants BCLC in that latter group.

“This paper reminds us that effective social purpose marketing is a long-term promise that requires a consistent strategy and a clear implementation framework,” he said.

BCLC finds social purpose amidst national scandal

This past year BCLC suffered public humiliation when a scathing 1,800-page report detailed international criminals using B.C. casinos as their playground. The report examined the province between 2008-2018 and took three years to complete.

In particular, federal and local watchdogs came under scrutiny as both did little to stop dirty money flowing through provincial casinos.

Of course, incidents such as these are what could potentially damage – or worsen – the trust between the general public and provincial lotteries. To that end, BCLC has worked hard over the past few years to rebuild its public perception.

Consider in 2022 alone, it won a trio of workplace awards.

Beyond that, the provincial lottery has taken its player-health program, GameSense, to the next level; 11 North American jurisdictions currently use it.

In the midst of it all, the company has found its north star of social purpose.

“We exist to generate win-wins for the greater good,” reads its website.

Chatterjee: Pandemic changed consumer behaviour

Forrester’s report referenced Dipanjan Chatterjee, author of Business Unusual: The Pandemic Forces a Social Reset.

Renewed approaches post-pandemic will serve companies such as BCLC well, he said.

“The pandemic has changed us, and we now seek more from commerce. We expect fulfillment, not just consumption. We expect the brands we patronize to be not just manufacturers and retailers but active, helpful contributors to our society.”

11 Marketing leaders, four academic experts enlisted for report

In total, Forrester conducted 11 interviews with marketing leaders in companies with a declared social purpose.

Five were from the US and Canada and one was from the United Kingdom.

Their respective industries included:

  • Financial services (1)
  • Retail/CPG (3)
  • Technology (1)
  • Healthcare (1)
  • Media (2)
  • Food and beverage (2)
  • Non-profit (1)

Interviews also included four academic experts.

Forrester’s study lasted from December 2021 to May 2022.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Jose Colorado

Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business and the occasional walk on the beach.

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