The casino floor continues to evolve, and in the not-too-distant future players will surely discover new gaming experiences that are even more engaging than those they enjoy today. It is a future WMS embraces and one we are committed to shape through a bold combination of insight and innovation.
We invite you to join us. Our success in this endeavor will rest largely on our collective ability to understand players’ needs and how their preferences continue to evolve over time. Only by listening to this all-important voice will we continue to provide exciting gaming experiences that attract a broad spectrum of players.
With an eye toward the industry’s continued growth, we are proud to share with CEM readers a series of columns summarizing the findings of the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile. We believe this profile is the most comprehensive report of its kind, as it sheds new light on the major forces shaping casino player behavior. Fielded during the fall of 2009, research for this report was conducted with a representative sample of 3,450 North American adults who visited a casino—including land-based, riverboat, cruise ship and online—at least once during the previous 12 months.
In last month’s column, we looked at some of the ways in which a growing sense of financial pressure brought about by the languishing economy is leaving its mark on the gaming industry. This month’s column explains how another dominant force—changing demographics—is transforming gaming and its place in players’ daily life and leisure choices.
Trend Watch 2: Changing Demographics
Roughly one in five North American adults is an active gambler, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile found. Just who are these players? The report provides an insightful snapshot of active gamblers as defined by several key classifications, including the following generational groupings: Millennials, also known as Generation Y, (between ages 18 and 30); Xers (ages 31 to 44); Boomers (ages 45 to 63); and Matures (64 years and older).
An examination of these segments reveals that the composition of our society is rapidly changing. Every nine seconds, someone in America turns 50, while in Canada, someone reaches this milestone every seven seconds. In 2010 alone, the U.S. will be home to more than 4 million additional 50-somethings. Current demographic projections show 20 percent of the U.S. population and 23 percent of the Canadian population will be more than 65 years of age by the year 2030. That translates into an astonishing 72 million Americans and 9.1 million Canadians.
The aging of North America is wonderful news for the gaming business. Currently, Boomers comprise 48 percent of the gambling population, and Mature gamblers represent 22 percent, as shown by the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile. As these older generations continue to grow, they will usher in opportunities for sustained growth. However, even as our industry continues to look to the Boomer and Mature segments currently as its primary audience, we cannot ignore the remarkable potential inherent in next-generation Millennial players.
Representing 12 percent of the active gambling population, Millennials have very different lifestyles, leisure and entertainment preferences than their parents, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile found. Millennials tend to multi-task, are more adventurous, more impetuous, and much to the dismay of marketers, they are also less brand-loyal.
Not surprisingly, these younger players are more technologically savvy and socially engaged than other generations. Instead of consuming traditional media, they are likely to use web-based entertainment channels, such as YouTube and other video sharing platforms, as well as online tools that allow them to shop, bank or pay bills with maximum convenience. The majority are open to experimenting with new technologies. They are likely to have an iPod or MP3 player, a Nintendo Wii or a Sony Playstation. Additionally, Millennials tend to own iPhones or smartphones rather than regular cell phones. The most active users of social networking, they are likely to have a personal page on Facebook and MySpace, as well as a Twitter account. This group tends to download and share music, as well, and read, write and share reviews online.
Millennials represent another trend in North America’s changing demography, driven not only by the aging of the population, but also by its diversity. North America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Currently, one in three Americans (33 percent) and one in seven Canadians (13 percent) are classified as diverse. More importantly, one in five Canadians will be considered diverse by 2017, while the majority (50 percent) of Americans will be diverse by the year 2042.
Yet astonishingly, only a small percent of active gamblers are African American, Hispanic or Asian, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile shows. In Canada, less than 1 percent of active gamblers are of African descent, 1 percent is Hispanic and 4 percent are of Asian descent. Clearly, the gaming industry is in a position to capitalize on the vast and untapped potential in these segments of the population.
Although the Boomer and Mature generations represent the industry’s sweet spot due to their available discretionary time and income, we must not overlook the next generation of gamblers. Real opportunities lie in the cultivation of this emerging market. As these younger players age and generate more disposable income, they will become much more profitable to target with products and services designed specifically to cater to their unique lifestyles, recreational interests and preferences for consuming entertainment.
From a technology and entertainment perspective, Millennials set a high benchmark for engagement and brand loyalty, making it even more important to engage them quickly and at maximum levels. The affinity among these younger players for new technologies makes them prime targets for the most innovative slot products that appeal to their needs. Their participation in social networking and use of the Internet to tailor products and information on demand means they expect real-time access to highly customized player experiences.
It is important to note that technologically sophisticated and engaging gaming experiences, such as WMS’ Sensory Immersion, Adaptive Gaming and Innovation Series of video reel products, have been well received across all demographic segments. Operators can offer dynamic play experiences to their core base of Boomers and Matures, while also courting younger, affluent players with new and personalized offerings.
Still, marked differences do exist in the gaming and leisure habits and preferences among the generations. At WMS, we are committed to player-focused research in our ongoing quest to develop gaming concepts and executions that truly resonate with the next generation of players. We will continue to offer compelling products that capture the interest of this segment, and the advent of networked technology is where focused development efforts toward younger players will truly resonate.
For more insights from the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile, visit our dedicated website, www.wmsactivegamblerprofile.com. Or, watch for this column in the next issue of CEM. You’ll learn about the growth of online gaming and the dramatic impact mobile technology is having on gaming. As always, listening to the voice of the players forges the path to higher returns. Are you prepared?