In the mindsets of Millennials, casinos have slowly become a major hub of “grandma activity.” A passive and confusing place that reels in pension cheques, but is not able to get the attention of younger, working consumers, the largest living generation in the United States (Fry 2016). It is clear that casinos need to do something quick to survive, but what exactly can lure in these younger experience driven value seekers?
Casinos have been around for centuries and their origins trace back to the ancient age of empires. Most of the games we are familiar with today – Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette – were invented centuries ago, and countries such as China, Egypt, France, India, and Italy played an important role in shaping the gaming industry as we know it today. However, despite the great success casinos enjoyed in the past century, gaming revenues today are stagnating as casinos struggle to attract Millennials, an increasingly important consumer demographic (Parker 2016).
Over the 21st century, titans of the American casino industry have lost ground to fresh and emerging Asian realities and numerous casino companies have been on the edge of bankruptcy (Parker 2016). Margins have been shrinking all over the world, as casinos’ customer base is aging, and companies are doing too little to grab Millennials’ attention (The Economist 2016). As younger customers become majority spenders in today’s economy, their lack of interest in casinos can put the entire business at risk.
As savvy spenders, and growing in number, Millennials seek value-for-money. They are no longer passive consumers, and increasingly want to shape the experiences they consume (Coppola 2015). Millennials are spending very little time on the casino floor, an area that has failed to evolve or change over the years. To appeal to the so-called Generation Y, casinos need to completely redesign the gambling experience to make it more immersive and inclusive. Casino floors need to tell a story that Millennials can relate with. So, how can casinos reinvent themselves?
1. Redesign the space: One of the strings casinos can pull to influence and shape Millennials’ engagement is by redesigning the casino floor. The experience must take place within a physical space that spawns energy and vibrancy. Companies should consider design styles that are more open, easy-to-navigate, and communal. Existing facilities may wish to experiment with zones, lounges, and other quarantined areas right on the casino floor that can be redesigned to better attract Millennials. The concept of social collisions should also be a priority and the design of the whole experience should revolve around this core component. All elements should enhance and prolong the duration of the experience. A key atmospheric element necessary to foster social collisions – missing from casinos – relates to physically moving around the space as one consumes an entertainment offering with others. Moreover, companies should be sincere and authentic, and should resonate with Millennials’ core values of social interaction, collaboration, authenticity and technological exceptionalism. This authenticity and openness should be reflected in every aspect, from branding to physical spaces (Moore 2014).
2. Leverage technological innovation: Beyond physical attributes, digital technologies will help to create the multi-dimensional experience the younger generation craves. This means that the very essence of how people gamble must evolve. Games must change to promote a multiplayer, skill-based, interactive, and even collaborative experience, where the individual is an active participant and can influence the outcome of the game. This clearly contradicts the current layout of casinos, which still primarily revolves around no-skill and low-involvement slot machines. Making vast use of new technologies available, such as augmented and/or virtual reality, casinos can craft an immersive experience where Millennials feel to be the fulcrum.
3. Tap into social media and endorsers: There are institutions with the power to enable new technologies or innovations to succeed. As far as Millennials are concerned, social media and celebrities are such institutions, and therefore have the power to influence younger demographics, popularize new customer experiences, and help companies regain popularity. Some celebrities, including reality stars, have a large number of Millennial followers. Endorsements from such celebrities will allow casinos to gain legitimacy in Millennials’ eyes and will entice them to try the new concept. On the other hand, social media and pictures, today banned from the casinos’ floors, need to be enabled in order to allow Millennials to share and live the experience to the fullest.
Casinos have the potential to address the new challenges Millennials present by creating a new entertainment experience. One great case to look at is TopGolf, which managed to bring golf back to a fun and enjoyable experience by tailoring the experience to Millennials’ preferences. The company put entertainment as top of mind when designing their driving range, intertwining it with lounges, TVs, and table service to foster a fun and social environment around the sport (Rodriguez 2015). Similarly, entertainment industries like arts and media, museums, theaters, and operas, which are struggling as much as casinos in targeting Millennials, can follow our recommendations to regain young customers’ attention.
Coppola, Roberto (2015), “Is Your Casino Optimized for Millennials?” Marketingresearch.org.
Fry, Richard (2016), “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation”, Pew Research Center.
Moore, Karl (2014), “Authenticity: The Way To The Millennial's Heart,” Forbes.
Parker, Laura (2016), “Casinos Look to Video Games as a Draw for Millennials,” The New York Times.
Pew Research Center (2010), “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.”
Rodriguez, Ashley (2015), “Fast-Growing Topgolf Expects to More Than Quadruple Visits in Just Three Years,” AdvertisingAge.
The Economist (2016), “Putting it all on grey.”