While we know that baby boomers (45 to 64) and those over 64, with their available discretionary time and income, are the “sweet-spot” of the market, we’re also told that in Canada someone turns 50 every seven seconds and that 23 percent of the Canadian population (9.1 million people) will be over 65 by 2030. It therefore becomes very clear that the real opportunity for growth lies in the next-generation of players (44 and younger) who are pushing these trends, all of which have different lifestyles and preferences.
These customers exhibit a greater comfort with technology, participate in social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) and increasingly seek out enriching, personalized experiences that allow them to make the most of their leisure time and provide a sense of participation and involvement. They expect real-time access to highly customized player experiences.
Technology advances have made portable media devices inexpensive and widely adopted. According to the 2010 WMS Active Gambler Profile, 93 percent of active gamblers in North America have a cell phone, 27 percent of whom own a smart phone. Almost half of the smart phone users have downloaded paid applications and more than two thirds of all phone users have played a game on their phone.
The WMS research also suggests that these players feel like they are always multi-tasking, cherish “me time”, and are willing to forego many basic gaming offerings in favour of those experiences that provide the most relevance, personalization and excitement. Operators who can deliver on these expectations by providing customers with choices and incentives customized to reflect their personal preferences will be rewarded.
Peer to peer marketing (through smart phone apps and social media) provides potentially significant connection points with these customers that are, for the most part, unexplored by the gaming industry in Canada. Properly constructed and implemented social media strategies could be leveraged to cultivate player relationships and increase player loyalty through, for example, real-time comps and benefits delivered through mobile devices.
When you combine the simultaneous priorities of maintaining markets and growing revenues, upholding social responsibility and guarding customer privacy, it becomes an ever-challenging world for all participants in the gaming industry and especially government agencies.
But then, as the ancient Chinese proverb says, “We are indeed living in interesting times.”
By Bill Rutsey, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association