The Newest Customer Engagement Paradigm: I’ll bet I can?!?!

The new year seems to always be a good time to vow to take better care of ourselves and others.  One of the most common “resolutions” is to lose weight, work out, etc.  But, something new emerged in the commercials recently … a place where you could actually make money losing weight.

My nature is always to look for the gimmick.  There are several of course, but as you take a closer look at this for yourself, consider the reason that the lottery and Las Vegas all thrive so well.  The odds are well known, but there is something exciting and invigorating about the process of betting.

Unbeknownst to me, a whole online industry has sprung up over the past year or so forming betting competitions about weight loss.  Yes, you bet you can lose more weight than anyone else in a period of time, and win some serious money if you do.

Check out and as just two examples.  Those of us who study online customer engagement approaches would call this gamification, and it certainly is in every way.  However, it does something more than just align with dopamine cycles in our brains.

We had a “casino night” for our annual company Christmas party and I watched in absolute wonder at the tables that drew the biggest groups:  craps and roulette.  Anyone who knows statistics like I do just shakes their head at these games since the “odds are stacked against you” … it is only a matter of time before you lose your money.

But, you watched people yell out “encouragement” to whomever threw the dice at the craps table as if somehow the dice were listening and could be influenced, or that the thrower was some form of a dice mechanic (and yes folks, there are people who learn to hold dice a certain way and throw them very precisely so they can increase their odds).

So, there is something to be learned here.  But, I am also a bit perplexed by the societal responsibility around allowing things like the lottery to exist.  We have it in Georgia and our son benefited from it because it is used to fund education in Georgia.  Boy did that lower the cost of college!

However, when you look at the demographic of people who play the lottery and the amount of money they throw away, you really can’t help but feel it is a tax on stupidity to pay for the education of others.

Does the lottery work to raise money?  Of course.  It is based upon the same ideas of Las Vegas.  Yes there are a few winners, but in general, the only winners are the house.

Does this concern change when people spend their own money to bet they can lose weight and feel good about it?  Personally, I get concerned that the people who can least afford to spend their money on these bets do so … in a form of addiction.

I know what I need to do!  I am going to put up an online therapy website and call it Weight Loss Gambling Anonymous.


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