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Player experiences – ensuring there’s no generation gap

By - 9 September 2019

Speaking ahead of his panel at Casino Beats summit on 17th – 20th September, Ash Clay, Head of UX at Kindred sits down with G3 to talk through his vision for the new generation of customer. As whole new generation of online casino players have never been to a casino and may never go, is the industry giving these valuable new players the games and experiences they deserve? And how important is a multi-brand strategy?

What does “casino” mean to an audience that has never ventured into a land-based location?

In a nutshell, entertainment. The casino experience is competing for entertainment time, not just other casino experiences, but any form of digital entertainment.
Games are evolving to the point that they are valued on their level of gameplay and UX as much as the potential jackpot. Both suppliers and operators will need to adjust to this new approach with the next generation of player – and plan accordingly.

Online casinos have tended to mirror the offer of land-based casinos – are we seeing a break from this standard offer and what might a future online casino look like?

This is true to a degree. Casinos by-and-large follow the same pattern from an experience perspective and this has been largely unchanged for many years. The online casino that tailors the experience to the individual can engage players in a way that land-based casinos struggle with, at least across a broad spectrum of their customer base.  The future casino needs to understand how to balance the personal experience with the aims of the brand generally.

Should there continue to be a defined line between “casino” and “sports book” online in terms of both brand and offer in the future? The High street was separated this way, does this mean new-gen online players view things the same way?

This an age-old question with a very different answer depending on who you ask, and it is interesting to see how different operators approach this say from a mobile app perspective. Do you offer a single product, or a multi-product offering? There are pros and cons to both. What is clear is that you can’t compromise either experience in bringing them together. There are certainly use-cases to blurring the line, but this really does depend on individual customer preference. What is clear is the need for more sophistication where the player experience is concerned. Simply linking two products in navigation terms is a long way from what I believe customers want.

What differentiates a player whose experience is totally online as opposed to generations with land-based (omni-channel) experience?

The context of one is totally different to the other. Online is often about micro-interactions, five-minute game play that matches the playing styles of the mobile first generation. Land-based is more of a commitment in time and effort. Speed is important to the online world; from the speed of experience to the speed of payments. It also depends on how you define channel in this context. Digital generations still interact via multiple channels, they are simply defined in a different way to the historic definition of a channel.

What are the different means of communication, marketing and engagement that must be adopted to reach this new generation of player?

Again, it is about context, and in today’s world that context is becoming even more challenging, or better, with things like data protection regulations and marketing restrictions. If you don’t offer value in your communication, then players are savvy enough to deny you the right. Tackling in-context communication then becomes even more important. Operators need to speak to players in the moment through the channel that is in use. A disconnect between channels can kill effective communication and make engagement disjoint. This isn’t rocket science, but fundamentally operators need to know their customer and as importantly, refine the message they want to tell them.

Scott Stratten of UnMarketing talks about the idiocy of trying to market to millennials on social media platforms. Should we discount social media as a platform to reach the next generation of players?

Yes and no. Social provides a channel to engage with different segments, but the effectiveness of different platforms will differ by segment and it is perhaps foolish to believe social equals millennials.

Will mobile become the only platform to reach this generation of players – and why?

Mobility will be at the core of future generation players. It is too easy to suggest you can or should go mobile only. An adaptive experience approach is optimal in my eyes, but if you need to make hard decisions, prioritise on the basis of what is best for mobile.

Does the next generation of players feel the same stigmas over gambling as in the past?

This depends on where the customer plays. The stigma is perhaps looked at differently based on location. What is clear is the fact the next generation will have grown up having access to endless data, know their rights to a much greater extent, and thus judge things differently to previous generations. The stigmas associated with casino are different to sports betting, it will be interesting to see whether this remains.

When influencers and customer reviews hold such a sway with the new generation of consumers, does this change how you engage with them?

I don’t believe so. Trust is hugely important and needs to be won. It can be a dangerous game to chase reviews and can lead to poor decisions that are very subjective. On the flip side there should be clear measures in place to evaluate how a product, brand or experience is perceived by customers. This needs to be monitored as a trend to normalise views.

Is the industry experimenting enough with new experiences/new games/new offers to appeal to this new generation of players?

It is beginning to. The need to differentiate and offer a true USP is becoming more obvious.  We are not seeing this manifest yet, but it will absolutely become an obvious advantage in the future. I subscribe to the idea, not surprisingly, that experience and service and ultimately trust in a brand will become the biggest differentiator and competitive advantage.

How do you steer a positive message with a next generation of players and build a positive brand image when this new audience is defined by being non-traditional?

You need to adapt. Any generation can be looked at as non-traditional, but you need to fundamentally understand their drivers and influences and provide a product and experience that fits with that view. Areas such as trust are not a quick win. One bad experience can kill any positive image a customer has with a brand. With so much competition in this industry customers don’t have to suffer a poor experience. Therefore, your message is as much about the ongoing relationship with the customer, built on transparency and trust. It is also about using your platform to reach a new audience with a positive message. If you look at what 32Red have done around Team Talk and men’s mental health, there is an opportunity to engage with an audience that otherwise may not be reachable.

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