As we close out 2018, we reflect on the year and take note of what a remarkable period it has been for the casino industry.

This year has brought us the legalization of sports betting, the beginning of a resurgence of Atlantic City with two new casino openings, the expansion of casinos into Massachusetts and the hope for revitalization of the Catskill region and the infusion of funds to expand and improve existing properties.

We are in the midst of new opportunities to reach new players and to enhance the player experience for existing players.

A great deal of thought has gone into the marketing to Boomers with discretionary income and to initiate trial with the elusive Millennials. The player loyalty programs are a key component and the casinos are aggressive in their activities. Shopping sprees, experiential events and bulk giveaways remain a critical vehicle for creating loyalty and driving frequency of play.

So how do we create a strong marketing initiative that will satisfy these groups? The first step is to understand the power of the brands that draw the players into the player loyalty programs.

According to Brand Finance, among the world’s most valuable brands in 2018 are: Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, AT&T, Microsoft, LG, Sony, Canon and PlayStation.

Now, according to Business Insider some of the top brands for Millennials include: Gucci, Dell, Kate Spade, HP, Samsung, Google, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft and Nike.

For Baby Boomers, YouGov includes these brands among the most popular: Sony, Samsung, Black & Decker, Amazon, Kodak, Bose, Canon, HP, LG, Apple and Bengay…but we’ll just leave that one alone.

So, we can begin to see that it is not difficult to appeal to both groups through these brands and round it out with the very desirable targeting of the female player. According to Ranker, the top fashion designers for women include: Gucci, Michael Kors, Versace, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, DKNY, Kate Spade, Lacoste and Zac Posen.

Casinos need to partner with marketing experts to drive player loyalty programs. Understanding the trends and the shifting loyalties are imperative to success. They shift very quickly in today’s marketing environment. “Mother-in-law” research and opinion can be very costly when the casino is making marketing budgeting decisions for their program. Taking into account the region, the density of competition and the profile of the existing player and the targeted player is a complicated exercise and one that needs to be refreshed on a regular basis.

I try to attend as many of our casino events as possible and always come away with new findings as redemption trends shift by brand and by economic conditions. The shift towards “luxury” products during a robust economy is apparent, as opposed to the redemption of “more practical” products during uncertain economic times. The desire for items that you are reluctant to spend money on, but will redeem with comp dollars earned, is another component to consider. Vacuums are a great example… despite the need for a new one, regardless of how torn-up the cord may become or ineffective the suction may be, no one wants to spend money on a new vacuum. For that reason, vacuums redeem very well in programs.

Now to get back to the beginning of this thesis: we are closing out a remarkable period and have great opportunities to grow. Here are the keys:

  • Include the player loyalty program on all gaming opportunities especially with online play. Those players want to be recognized and they want trophy value rewards.
  • When hosting events, executives should take the time to stop in. Talk to the players. Watch the redemptions take place. Get feedback. Most of our clients—including the president of the casino, player hosts, buyers and marketing teams—regularly come to these events and that has led to a more successful program. And the players like to have access to “people in charge.” They spend a lot of time in the casino and want to be “part of the team.”
  • Don’t assume that something will work. Let us help you with data and new emerging brands. Look at what Michael Kors and MCM have done in the past few years.

This industry should be very proud of its growth and its growing presence in communities with the expansion of ancillary services. We are very bullish on this industry and look forward to a great 2019 and beyond.