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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta

Casino marketers need to step up their game with Millennials

6 October 2014

When I come to the casino, I’ll have six of my buddies with me and we want a blackjack table so that all of us can play and interact at the same time.

I have a list of our favorite drinks and microbrews that we’d like to have while we’re playing.

Oh, and since we’re all Michigan State grads, we’d like to be sure that the Nebraska game is on a television we can all see because we’d like to catch the game as we play.

And because we’ll be watching the game, the pace of our play may be a little slower — hope that’s OK.

We also want to make sure it’s all right for us to take pictures at the table so that we can show some of our other friends what a good time we’re having.

How would a Las Vegas casino respond to such a request?

Scott Hess, senior vice president of human intelligence and strategic research for Spark, a Chicago-based media company that, among other things, assesses branding and marketing to different generations, believes that to be a scenario that could someday play out if casino companies want to succeed at attracting Millennials.

The Millennials, born between 1982 and 2004, is now the largest living generation of consumers, some of whom are entering their prime earning and spending years, and have philosophies about life that are far different from the Baby Boomers that have been the key demographic casinos have targeted for years.

Hess spoke Thursday at the final day of the Global Gaming Expo at The Venetian where 27,000 gaming industry professionals viewed new products on the trade show floor and heard comments from industry experts in presentations and panels.

Hess said it’s important for casino company executives to consider the values of Millennials if they want them as customers.

It’s a generation that values happiness over money, love over career and savvy over sexy when it comes to choosing a life partner.

Having lived through a recession, they’re optimistic about the future and they thrive on trying something new.

Some characteristics the average Millennial shares is important to casino companies: They find risk-taking exciting, enjoy VIP treatment, will listen to celebrity endorsements and will look to their friends and third-party sources on social media for recommendations about products and experiences and will gladly share their own opinions about things in online reviews.

Some of the brands that have discovered the Millennial niche market are Apple, Nike, Aeropostale and American Eagle.

As far as casino experiences are concerned, Hess said the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has come closest to finding the formula to market to the Millennial generation.

“By Las Vegas standards, it’s pretty small,” Hess said. “It’s basically a mall and a club that just happens to have a casino.”

But the property has attractions that appeal to the generation and an advertising campaign that alludes to the surprising experiences inside.

Millennials view technology as a fun enabler and that provides another avenue for managers of casino slot floors to embrace another aspect of the generation’s mindset — donating to charitable causes.

Hess suggested that a casino company could set programming on some slot machines to divert a portion of winnings to a charitable cause. That way, a player could give to a cause while enjoying the casino experience.

Hess noted that because of the Millennial generation’s proclivity to share their experiences and product ratings on social media, it wouldn’t take long for a casino property’s treatment of Millennial customers to spread on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.