WMS Survey Shows Shifts in Gambler Preferences, Part 5: Social Values and Lifestyles

The landscape of the gaming industry is changing. Recession-weary players today are watching their wallets closely. The sense of caution and uncertainty is pervasive, as people wonder about the economic outlook and what it holds for them in the near future. The gaming industry as a whole must adopt a fresh perspective on the ways in which gamblers have internalized the impact of the languishing economy on their lives.

Whether in challenging economic times or robust ones, WMS carefully monitors trends and emerging habits in our ongoing effort to continually enhance the player experience. Our success derives largely from our ability to understand the needs of players and how their lifestyles and preferences evolve over time. This vital feedback, combined with new technologies and intellectual property, produces unique gaming experiences that excite the senses.

The 2010 WMS Active Gambler Profile™ is but one example of WMS’ commitment to innovation. During the past few months, it has been our privilege to share with CEM readers some of the provocative insights of this year’s exploration. In recent issues, you have read about four powerful forces—the Economy, Demography, Technology and Media Consumption—that have converged to reshape consumer behavior and the gaming industry in North America today.

In this, our final column of the series, we delve deeper into the expectations and preferences of active gamblers as we explore the fifth of these forces: the ongoing transformation of consumer Social Values and Lifestyles. You will learn how such preferences as Personalization, Participation and Enrichment are changing the casino floor. And you will gain invaluable insights on how to leverage these trends and position yourself solidly on a path for growth.

Trend Watch 5: Social Values and Lifestyles
The sense of time compression among active gamblers has been mounting steadily since the mid ‘90s, when most Americans first became wired, and the pace of life began to change. Coupled with the ever-increasing demands of the workplace, it’s no surprise that today’s players are placing more emphasis on personal time and how it’s allocated in order to garner more fulfillment from what they value most.

As active gamblers attempt to make the most of their precious leisure time, their desire for enriching experiences that deliver individual and personalized attention continues to grow. Most active gamblers (64 percent) say they prefer to spend their money on experiences that will enrich their lives, such as travel, theater and dining. Nearly one-third (32 percent) would rather go to places that are more than just entertainment, where they can also enjoy a sense of participation. These players are experientialists who welcome novelty and adventure. In fact, almost half (44 percent) agree with the statement, “to truly understand something, I need to experience it myself.”

Personalization is another force continuing to affect gaming. The 2010 WMS Active Gambler Profile indicates that some form of personalization soon will characterize the consumption of goods and services. The proliferation of the Internet, combined with increased comfort with the latest technology, further enables a high level of personalization among today’s tech-savvy active gamblers. Fully one-third of them have personalized a product online—a significant gain from the 26 percent observed in 2008.

This growing interest in personalizing products and services can be tied to a desire for control. Now more than ever, players are looking to take charge of their lives. Nearly six in 10 active gamblers (56 percent) indicate they are focusing more on managing what they can and worrying less about things that are beyond their control. More than one-quarter are looking for ways to exercise more control over their lives (26 percent) and working fewer hours so they can have more time to enjoy life outside their work (27 percent).

More than one-third (34 percent) of avid active gamblers are smokers. Of these, three quarters (75 percent) would visit a casino less often or stop visiting altogether if smoking were banned. As you can see, the impact would be substantial.

As discussed in previous examinations of technology and social media, active gamblers are also tech-savvy and eager to be plugged in to the latest innovations. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) agree that the household computer is an essential part of their lives. When it comes to their media consumption habits, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler Profile found that active gamblers spend an average of 21 hours online each week—the same amount of time spent watching TV. As consumers continue to make the transition from traditional to online media, it is interesting to note that nearly four in 10 (39 percent) active gamblers are either in favor of or neutral to the idea of legalizing online gambling in the U.S.

Implications
The implications of this research are quite profound. Today’s active gamblers are working harder, enduring more stress and stealing moments from their cherished and much needed “me time. ”
The busy lifestyle of North American gamblers today is greatly altering the way these players engage during their casino visits, and it is expected to continue to do so in the coming years. With less available time and a propensity to feel like they are always multitasking, players will increasingly be willing to forego the basic gaming offerings in favor of those experiences that provide the most relevance, personalization and excitement.

WMS’ first-of-their-kind innovations enable operators to deliver unrivaled gaming experiences that active gamblers find enticing and worthy of their limited time and attention. Similarly, operators can optimize player offerings and the overall experience by providing customers with choices and incentives customized to reflect their patrons’ personal preferences.

Conclusion
WMS understands active gamblers’ desires and preferences are constantly evolving. Undoubtedly, the industry will soon need to embrace a new view to fully understand the many different ways in which consumers have internalized the economic impact of the past year.

WMS plans to remain vigilant in tracking and understanding these shifts to ensure the needs of operators and their players are met.

This second edition of the WMS Active Gambler Profile reveals powerful new findings, while also reaffirming many player preferences observed in our inaugural, 2009 study. Before concluding our series of exclusive CEM bylines, we’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the compelling, new insights in this year’s report. Specifically, WMS recognizes many active gamblers today are:

• Reducing their entertainment spending, carrying too much debt, suffering from unemployment or concerns about job security, and expressing a sense of caution moving forward.
• Increasing in number among older generations of players, while up-and-coming age groups are younger and more diverse with different lifestyles and leisure preferences than their parents.
• Showing greater comfort with technology, as evidenced by their increased time spent online and on mobile devices for entertainment, social interactions and visitation to casual gaming sites.
• Experimenting with social media, which, no longer a novelty, has become an integral part of contemporary life.
• Increasingly seeking out enriching, personalized experiences that allow them to make the most of precious leisure time and provide a sense of participation and involvement.

It has been our great pleasure to share with you these past few months the results of our 2010 investigation of active gamblers. WMS is committed to Player-Driven Innovation™ and provocative and actionable insights that will help guide the ongoing evolution of the casino floor. Empowered with keen insights and imaginative solutions, our industry will continue to provide gaming entertainment that truly resonates to far exceed player expectations. We hope you have found these bylines to be a valuable resource for the prosperity of your operations.

If you would like more information on the 2010 WMS Active Gambler Profile and the company’s unique understanding of the emerging lifestyles and gaming preferences of active gamblers, please visit our dedicated website at www.wmsactivegamblerprofile.com.

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