The Bigger Picture
Lotteries are increasingly pondering the fate of $1 instant tickets, with some even arguing for their removal; however, the potential consequences this decision could have on the industry must be considered within a broader context.
Although this price point’s popularity has diminished in recent years, it still serves as an essential gateway to new players. One study indicates $1 games are the most popular price point for first-time buyers (43%), and $1 and $2 games are most likely to be impulse purchases. Research also shows players often start at the $1 and $2 levels, then move to higher price points over time. These findings caution against measuring $1 sales growth in isolation because this approach doesn’t tell the full story of the $1 price point’s influence on overall instant ticket sales across the pricing spectrum.
Young adults (18 to 24)—a crucial demographic for the future of lottery—are more likely to play $1 games on a weekly basis. By eliminating the easiest entry points for these and other new players, lotteries risk losing a sizable segment of their future customer base.
Strategies for Success
Lotteries can employ various strategies to ensure $1 games continue to play a key role within the entire instant ticket lineup. Including $1 tickets within families of games, for example, allows these lower-priced tickets to benefit from increased marketing support, ensuring they receive heightened visibility. Additionally, reducing the frequency of annual game launches to between four and six—or launching these games on a targeted basis (e.g., the holiday season, when they serve as popular gifts)—could prove effective.
Multiple research studies reveal the main reason instant games aren’t played is because people feel they don’t win often enough. Since the holidays are seen as the best time for new players to try instant tickets, prize payouts can play a key role in a player’s initial experience. Providing a strong prize structure is vital, and $1 tickets should offer many memorable wins. For example, $1 games with loaded $50 prizes, where at least 19% of the prize fund is allocated to $50 prizes, sold 13% better than average.
And finally, incorporating specialty features like Scratch FX® into $1 tickets can also widen their appeal and drive impulse purchases. The proof? $1 holiday games printed with an innovation sold 28% better than average.