Millennials dominate conversations around product strategy, marketing and even the economy at large, yet most Millennials do not view themselves as “millennials” and don’t match the stereotype.
Certainly not in the, often scornful, manner in which the media portrays them.
The perception of the Millennial is that of the me-me-me “snowflake” generation (a derogatory term that has actually reached widespread use to the point of being provided its own definition by official dictionaries including the Oxford English Dictionary as “an overly sensitive or easily offended person, or one who believes they are entitled to special treatment on account of their supposedly unique characteristics”). Essentially Millennials are considered a difficult generation, who live with their parents, have low paying jobs, and refuse to spend money.
In reality, Millennials are born between 1981 and 1996, the average age is 32 and according to research by the Pew Research Centre they are commonly highly educated and earn a far higher income than memes and folklore suggest. Although they are dealing with unprecedented student debt and inflation, they co-habit and do not saddle themselves with mortgages at a young age, leading to Business Insider Intelligence reporting them as simultaneously the “brokest and the richest” generation.
While the younger end of the spectrum do have low income and savings, research by Forbes has identified the generation at large as poised to be the globe’s biggest spenders as they move into their prime earning and spending years. This will include the financial benefits of higher education, more women in the work force, inheritance from the Baby Boomer and Generation X generations and good savings habits from a younger age.
That being said, the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is going to change the status quo, certainly in the short-term, to an extent that we cannot quite predict yet. Higher unemployment will inevitably lead to lower disposable income, however what is widely being described as the “New Normal” actually largely reinforces the belief system and lifestyle of the Millennial generation.
There is more care for individuals and society in general and significant expectations of corporate social responsibility. Although the disposable income may be less it will no longer be spent in the cavalier consumeristic ways of the previous generations, for whom absent-minded product consumption in general was the norm. In addition, the travel sector which is expected to be one of the hardest hit industries post-coronavirus will have less impact on Millennial spending power or habits as they already typically spend much less on this than previous generations – preferring local over international travel.
Millennials as the Gambling Market
With regards to the gambling industry, we need to acknowledge Millennials as the fastest growing target market, which will, within a few years, be the largest, and most dominant. In doing so we need to consider the generation, not in terms of simply age or stereotyped misconceptions. It must be but recognised that there is an irreversible global shift in lifestyles and purchasing power, along with a more considered attitude to spending where experiences are massively prioritised over physical items.
To date the gambling industry has largely focussed on products and brands as the key to player acquisition. While the reality is that accommodation of the mind-set of the target audience has become equally as important to driving traffic when that very target audience looks at life through a different lens. When spending money, Millennials focus on value over brand names. While the industry doesn’t and shouldn’t want to get into the bonus wars of the late ‘90s, the concepts of experience and benefit have to be a focal part of the product offering. The fact that brand names are losing their perceived importance may pave the way for start-up operators who launch with a highly specific offering in a socially conscious manner.
Ironically, while Millennials are not brand loyal based on price, research has found that almost two-thirds will stay loyal if treated well through a customer-centric experience. This will require personalised customer service, offerings, and enhanced forms of player retention strategies to an unprecedented extent. Companies who are successful in this may see a change in lifecycles and lifetime values of players.
Unsurprisingly smart phones are ubiquitous, and the demographic spends more per annum on comforts and conveniences including electronics, gaming, dining out and general hobbies. This reinforces the experiential nature of the generation. It also has knock-on effects for the gambling industry.
The growth in recent years of real-time betting and live gaming can be somewhat attributed to the fact that both of these add to the experience of an event, whether it be watching sports or enhancing the solitary RNG experience.
Betting verticals are likely to evolve as well. Since Millennials are technologically advanced, and gaming is a major hobby, the exponential growth of betting on eSports is inevitable – perhaps even overtaking football as the #1 betting product at some point.
Given that “television” as we know it is being decimated in favour of services such as Netflix, live viewing of sports is likely to decrease. Business Insider has reported that both college football games attendance and NFL viewership are already slowly declining. Instead Millennials increasingly view short-form video highlights and recaps of sporting events, or simply keep abreast of results on their smartphones.
Marketing practices will also need to be adjusted in line with millennial habits. Though many gambling jurisdictions are placing increasingly stringent rules around paid media, social media is an integral part of the lives of Millennials; as are recommendations from peers, friends and influencers, therefore marketing budgets will increasingly be focussed on these networks.
This will be a fine line for gambling operators to walk, as it could have disastrous consequences given that social networks are considered personal domains. For example one European operator faced massive backlash for sponsoring an official Twitter hashtag at a major football event – with the public considering that to be somewhat of a corporate hijack of a public property. Other approaches have created personalities around their brands – adding to the overall interaction and experience they have with the players and fitting in seamlessly on timelines and newsfeeds.
In addition, we will see far more social consciousness in marketing techniques. The response of companies – not just gambling – in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic and in response to life-changing movements such as Black Lives Matter or #MeToo can be seen to have a profound effect on Millennials. People are sharing knowledge and even real-time lists of “good” and “bad” companies with whom they intend (or not) to spend money with in the future based exclusively on how those companies are reacting to these events and issues.
The environment is also taking more of a centre-stage and influencing purchasing decisions. Recently a crypto-casino launched a major marketing campaign to plant 20 million trees, and although the success is not yet known, the company has to be lauded in demonstrating progressive thinking in the approach to driving brand awareness and subsequent acquisition.
All in all, despite current global events and the consequent massive downswing in gambling revenues, Millennials are the upcoming powerhouse generation, it is important to learn what motivates them and change up products, marketing and regulation to meet their expectations.
Aideen Shortt is CEO of Lilywhite Limited, which is part of the Random Group. The scope of the Random Group ranges from gambling regulation and technology to compliance and operations. Aideen is a specialist in licensing, compliance, AML and marketing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org