Casino Marketing with a New Attitude
I believe casino marketers are finding themselves in a time when our efforts to drive visits and revenue are at their finest.
The insights available through various investments in casino management, CRM and business intelligence systems have made it possible for us to find the incremental revenue we so deeply desire. Casinos know how to optimize their offers, but it’s no longer the only way to win…. these days, it’s simply the table stakes.
Our ability to communicate on a personal level is better than ever before. Remember when we started utilizing variable printing and thought that was the personalization we needed? Insert laugh track here. As technology and marketing approaches evolve, consumers are demanding that we have and acknowledge their individuality as well as providing compelling offers. Most operators have conducted market research to better understand customer opinions; usually in the form of formal and informal focus groups, telephone surveys and online survey tools. But are we missing information even with these processes? Is it time to revisit the research, how we conduct it and what do we do with the insights?
Recently, I sat with Scott Seidewitz of the eponymous Seidewitz Group and Brad Wood, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Gordian Knot Analytics Group, to uncover the potential of “attitudinal segmentation” and how that can change the way we communicate with our customers.
Typically, companies will undertake a robust research program and get some actionable insights, which may or may not be acted upon. But in the last 15 years, there has been an explosion of understanding on how emotions impact decision making. Attitudinal segmentation is a branch of marketing that, simply put, provides insight into the mind of the customer—their needs, attitudes and beliefs. This layer of segmentation gives you the ability to market with something more motivating than average daily theoretical (ADT). It allows you to target with more than just the customer’s behavior while they are at the casino.
Most marketers target based on very basic demographic factors such as age, gender, income, etc. Casino marketers use this and add frequency, market distance and theo (occasionally win/loss). But, as businesses mature, there is a need to narrow focus to make the most profitable decisions. That focus allows us to craft strategies that appeal to the right customer.
Companies such as Procter and Gamble have done this for years. “Take the laundry detergent category,” Seidewitz said. “You’ve got Tide, Cheer, Era and Gain. All clean clothes. So, how does P&G position a product in this category so that it resonates with individuals?
“Through attitudinal segmentation, P&G was able to discover the needs and attitudes consumers had toward their detergent. Some consumers invested in their clothing, and they were looking for protection. Cheer. Some consumers are ‘stain makers,’ and they are looking for a product like Era. Some are ‘family cleaners’. Tide. And, finally some are looking for a scent that appeals to them. Gain. Now P&G has the ability to hyper-focus the product message to a specific customer.”
P&G had multiple laundry detergent brands competing with each other. They thought that would drive the company growth until they realized they could have more impact if they appealed to specific customers based on their needs, attitudes and beliefs. By adopting a focused customer segment approach, P&G is now able to be more efficient with all marketing spend.
Of course, gaming properties can follow this same market segmentation and research approach, but Seidewitz cautioned there are some common missteps to avoid:
- Undefined segments- Often times the segments are not well defined. Many think it’s purely about the statistics.
- Questions with meaning- Questions that go into the survey are the most critical element that will determine if the segmentation will work. Seidewitz encourages input from as many people in the organization, particularly from front-line employees. Also important is looking at previous research and doing some qualitative research to identify what you want to test.
- Meaningful data- If you truly want to determine what is going to drive visits, review multiple segmentation schemes. This type of cluster analysis can be done by an outside company, with the business team eventually identifying which schemes work for them.
- Big investments require due diligence- Look for experience firms outside the casino industry marketplace to do the work. You want perspectives from other industries. You want your vendor to be focused on statistical segmentation capabilities and have an interest in understanding your business versus already coming to the table with casino experience.
- Inability to tag your database accurately- Seidewitz said this is a common Achilles heel. Bringing in your CIO and a perhaps a third-party vendor is something to consider. There are a number of firms that append behavior to big data files. Your research partner will probably (or should) have recommendations if you need them.
Gordian Knot Analytics Group’s Brad Wood stresses the importance of appending this attitudinal data to current files. “We know the behaviors, but let’s acknowledge that all high value customers will not respond to the same triggers,” he said. “Understanding why they respond is key information that tells us how a customer may function outside of the casino. Once appended to your quantitative data, you start to see people rather than customers. All of a sudden the 55-year-old woman that visits the casino once a week in the mid-morning becomes a stay-at-home mom who is joining her friends for a break to her day.
“You have customers that visit more than one casino. Some people visit for the offer, some visit because they think they should change before their luck runs out. Without a view into their needs, attitudes and beliefs, you’re not getting a full view of why.”
The current internal data we are currently working with gives us only a partial view of the customer. Imagine a segment of sophisticated all-purpose travelers and another segment of travelers that are highly susceptible to VIP treatment and loyalty programs. They spend the same amount of money to travel. In our current world, they look the same. Our message would typically be the same, but imagine understanding which customers fall into each category. Now you have two well-defined segments that you can specifically market to with specific messages and through specific channels, driving time/date specific trips when the business needs it.
“The problem,” Wood added, “is that right now I can’t identify those people because now I have to send them a 10-question survey that would be easy to answer but with questions that isn’t going to give me this type of insight. Or, I can create a persona using behavior data that is already in my database without any notion of what motivates them.”
Your database needs to be able to accept the new attitudinal variables. That can be as simple as an updated table, and could finally answer the age old question, “Why does a customer visit?”
We used to tailor images in our direct mail... table or slots, golf or spa. What if we could use images that would trigger an emotional need, such as a table game image of winning for one or a table game image of getting something free? Attitudinal segmentation is layering in the needs attitudes and beliefs of the customer, taking your marketing and messages to another level.