Gambling operators who are frustrated by seeing millennials shy away from slots are not the only ones who are challenged in finding what appeals to a demographic that is quickly becoming dominant.
Jeff Fromm, co-author of “Marketing to Millennials,” gave a one-hour talk to World Poker Tour personnel last week in Hollywood, attempting to explain the mindset of a generation (born from 1977 to 1995) that now numbers 82 million, a generation having the greatest increase in disposable income. And they are entering their peak earning and spending years.
So it’s no surprise that businesses of all types – including casinos – are trying to figure out how to do well in that market.
Applying Fromm’s statements to the topic of casino offerings seems to support the move into skill-based games and experiential endeavors. “Brands that are willing to give up equity in old schemes to meet new need states are going to be the big winners,” says Fromm, a partner at Kansas City-based Barkley, which describes itself as an innovation company.
Fromm, speaking generally, noted that millennials do have the money to burn. “When it comes to wine and food they can afford the $75 bottle of wine,” he says. “They can afford the weekend trip to get away. They want to experience everything life has to offer and the adventure theme runs very deep.”
Fromm also notes how quickly millennials consume information. “It’s a mobile-first culture,” he says. “If you don’t think that way, you’re going to lose.”
They chose their brands based on three variables — uniqueness, innovation, and meaningfulness – and the best testimony comes from friends, including what friends say online. “It’s not only word-of-mouth, but word-of-mouse,” he says.
After his talk, Fromm got an update on efforts of companies such as GameCo. That company is the first to launch skill-based games, which they call Video Game Gambling Machines (trademarked “VGM”). The company has certification from Gaming Laboratories International, and has rolled out machines in New Jersey, with Connecticut and Nevada coming soon.
Fromm then spoke about the gambling industry in particular. “Millennials are looking for all of life’s adventures and they prefer unique experiences, so they can curate their social currency,” Fromm says. “And a lot of the big brand trends are around gamification.”
So GameCo gets an extra star for Monday’s news that the company’s first game under license agreement, “Star Trek Deep Space Nine Adventure,” will be available in the fall. The game allows players to take command of the U.S.S. Defiant and battle their way to victory through immersive ship-to-ship combat. GameCo plans to release at least ten new VGM titles in 2017, including games currently in development under license from major developers and entertainment IP companies, including Paramount’s “Mission Impossible,” “Paranormal” and “Ferris Bueller;” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” from StudioCanal S.A.S.
Credit GameCo: The first skill-based Video Game Gambling Machines (VGM), proprietary arcade-style cabinets that balance player skill with patented game design, while maintaining the same return to player as traditional slot machines. Play as Baz or Thyme to conquer Danger Arena. Take out 6 or more Danger Bots and you’re in the money. Eliminate 10 bots for top payout!
As Fromm says, “The winners in terms of opportunities are going to be the brands that go to the extreme in terms of creating those Instagram-worthy experiences.”
That opinion falls in line with words written by Cliff Fontenot for the Canadian gambling site GrizzlyGambling.com. In compiling a list of the top 10 Internet gaming companies, Fontenot notes that each one has a spirit of innovation. “To be on top and maintain that position for years to come, they’re going to have to continue to innovate and give their customers more of what they want,” he wrote.
Fromm agrees. “Millennials tend to be social, and they want new,” he says. He notes that participants in traditional forms of running aren’t increasing, but mud runs are going up.
And millennials move the needle, setting trends that other demographics then follow, Fromm notes. “They’re early adopters. They set trends,” he says. “They are 2.5 times more likely to be the first to adopt digital, mobile, and social technology, and the same is true for other categories. They set the trends for food, entertainment, travel and more.”