Friday, 10 September 2010

How sure are you that you will be in business in the future? Health and Sustainability

Over the summer I’ve been talking to a number of senior stakeholders within the online gaming industry on themes related to how to build a sustainable industry. A couple of papers related to my research will be published later this year, however people have been asking me what other companies in other industries are doing to help build customer loyalty through sustainable practices.

So as executives become increasingly worried about the impact of sustainability on the corporate bottom line, I’m taking a look at the themes of Safety, Social Change, The Environment, Fairness and Health to see what ideas from other industries can be leveraged to sustain the online gaming industry. A whitepaper will be posted on the Bet Buddy website soon but here is a view on Health and sustainability.

Many companies are now beginning to address sustainability issues beyond their four walls, particularly upstream in the supply chain. For example, Marks and Spencer launched Plan A in 2007 and are considered a leader in developing fair and sustainable business partnerships with their third world supplier.

However, Thomas Singer of SustainAbility argues that few examples exist of companies that have begun to act upon the realisation that their sustainability impact also extends downstream to their customers. Singer argues that the next frontier is likely to be about addressing this downstream impact, and companies that take this leap will find themselves well positioned for sustainability leadership. The first challenge, however, will be coming to terms with the notion that the customer may not always be right.

In the UK, a growing number of supermarkets and food manufacturers are using traffic light colours on the labels of products to help consumers make more informed choices. Companies such as Sainsbury, Asda and McCain say that the introduction of food labelling has had a very positive impact on product development and their customers, who have found food labelling both informative and reassuring. Now customers have experienced the benefits of food labelling, would they expect anything less? See what companies and people are saying at this Food Standards Agency video.

So could a similar approach be used within online gambling? Some say yes. Players are often presented with too much information to be able to make rationale and informed choices & are susceptible to taking the wrong decisions. Therefore, providing players with feedback on their play, such as if their bet frequency has increased significantly, could help promote more sustainable gambling practices.

Consumer decision making is further explored in Sunstien and Thaler’s book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’. The authors say that everyone’s "Inner Homer Simpson" drives us to make flawed decisions, which I explored in a previous blog.