Sometimes Winning Isn't the Only Thing

One of the drivers of our work here at FanUp is the science behind contest and “winning.”  People do love to win (that’s just part of the human condition, it seems).  But just as important as winning is getting to play in the first place, and we’ve used that knowledge to create win/wins for our clients and their end users.

Wins For the End User

Some years ago Dr. Paul Zak, a professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont University, conducted a study regarding coupons. Half of the participants in the study were given coupons to use for online shopping and the other half were not.  The participants were then measured for stress, respiration, and perspiration levels.  The results?  Among those who received coupons:

  • Respiration dropped 32%
  • Heart rate decreased by 5%
  • Sweat levels dropped by a factor of 20
  • Oxytocin levels rose by 38%

Oxytocin (not to be confused with oxycontin) is released into our bloodstream when we are in labor or in love.  Needless to say our couponed participants were more relaxed and less stressed.

And what happens when we are relaxed?  We tend to inflate the monetary value of products.  A study done around the same time as Dr. Zak’s, headed by Columbia Business School, found that states of relaxation consistently increased the value of products.

So maybe you didn’t need to see studies to believe that people are happy to receive coupons or tend to overvalue things when they are relaxed.  How is this a win for the end user?  Simple: you don’t have to “win” a contest to make clients happy and have them associate those feelings with the brand.  The key to winning in the long run is twofold:

  • Notification: customers would rather lose than not know the status of their entry
  • Gratification: giving end users something of value still feels like a “win,” as these studies point towards

What does that best practice look like?  You didn’t win the prize today (notification) but you do get this 35% off coupon just for participating (gratification).

Wins For the Client

But we’re not done winning yet.  There’s so much more winning to go!  What does all this relaxation, happiness, and positivity mean for our clients?


The end user associates your brand with generosity, simply because you engaged them with a giveaway and/or a coupon.  BUT don’t think the generosity vibe is a given. Make sure your coupon or offering really does feel like a special bonus, e.g. if you are running a 10% default coupon on your website… give a lil’ more… like… 20%...


The very mechanism of a contest or giveaway is a rich data mine for you to observe current customer behavior and/or garner new customers. That may sound boring - BUT it doesn’t have to be! It is amazing how much you learn about current and future customers with a customized and well thought out giveaway… the participant gets showered in rewards, you get showered in valuable metrics. 


It goes without saying that people who have coupons in their hands tend to use them  Upwards of 17% of revenue in many major retail businesses is generated by deals or coupons.  For many people this is “free money.”  Brands know that there are people who will pay full price and those who will wait for deals.  They offer those deals for a reason: they pay off.  And that’s not all.  When customers are using those coupons, there’s opportunity for the clients to:


  • Introduce the end user to new products
  • Offer additional items for purchase
  • Increase average order sizes


Contests get people involved!  Sometimes they’ll get their friends and family involved as well.  We love to get exclusive offers and love to “share the wealth” with the people we care about.


So, while a very famous football coach once said that “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” we at FanUp say that “Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s just the start.”


Looking for more engagement with, revenue from, and data on your end users?  Tell us about your idea!