MRI Casino Marketing Blog
Market Research: Four Vital Answers You Need Now

Market Research

What did you do last weekend?

It’s a simple question, but does it have a simple answer? Would your reply depend on the person doing the asking? While you’re likely to tell your best friend every gritty detail of Saturday night’s booze-filled bash, your boss may hear a highly-edited version of the weekend’s events. This is because you know your audience.

In everyday life, it’s easy to tailor what we say to the person standing in front of us. When it comes to your marketing messages, the path becomes less clearly marked. How can you ensure the things you say will be appropriate, compelling and well received?

You do your research.

Today we’re sharing four key research questions that, when answered, will help you make sound marketing decisions and gain a leg up against the competition. Finding and using the answers to these four questions is what most often leads our clients to market share gains.

Research Question #4 - What makes my casino brand uniquely compelling?

It’s crucial to know your niche.

Clearly, winning makes people happy. According to Harvard Psychology professor and the author of Stumbling on Happiness Dan Gilbert, Natural Happiness is defined as getting what we want. Examples of this might be winning a huge poker pot or hitting a life-changing jackpot.

In reality, most casino visitors never experience a big win. Does this mean they are unhappy? Not in the least. Gilbert believes we can be just as happy if we don’t get what we want, thanks to a phenomenon he calls Synthetic Happiness. Synthetic Happiness is our brain’s ability to find a way to appreciate what we do have, and it’s every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness we experience when we get exactly what we were aiming for.

As a casino operator, you deliver Synthetic Happiness to your players every time you issue a dining comp or offer a half-price hotel package. You create Synthetic Happiness when a member of your staff goes out of the way to provide personalized and memorable service. Simple user-friendly amenities like safe, well-lit parking and clean restroom facilities can go a long way to making your customers feel great about their time spent at your casino.

Your task is to identify the specific, unique and relevant experiences that trigger Synthetic Happiness in your players. A scientific research study can reveal and define these elements, helping you to hone in on what truly matters to your most valuable players.

Of course, your best players bring more than revenue to your casino. They often bring an in-depth familiarity with your competitors including their strengths and weaknesses.  Tap into that depth of knowledge and you’ll learn the best ways to become a market share growth leader. Armed with these player insights, you will have the tools you need to create sustaining loyalty, support a unique brand position, and become the first choice for a player’s night out.

Research Question #3 - How effective is my advertising impact?

This is a two-part question. 

  1. Is the audience seeing, hearing or reading my message?
  2. Is the message they are receiving convincing them to visit?

 Media channels:

Casinos spend megabucks on advertising, relying on a variety of marketing and advertising methods to reach current and potential customers. Over time, the marketing methods you rely on will change, evolve or grow ineffective. It’s important to create a media matrix for each of your important gambler segments and test your communications channels to make sure you are getting the exposure you need.

Messages; and are they compelling?

Across the board, casino operators understand the relevance of exciting casino play and a winning atmosphere, and these features are heavily highlighted in most advertising messages. Unfortunately, this leads to marketing materials that all look, sound and feel very much the same. Pictures of slot reels and winners high-fiving does nothing to differentiate your brand.  Examine casino websites and you will see definite similarities.

Powerful brand positioning requires a unique message accompanied by a unique service offering.  Every competitor can’t offer the best chance to win but through actionable research, you can uncover your competitive advantage, and clearly convey your message through your marketing materials. That’s just what we did for the Horseshoe Casino a few years back. These messages were at once differentiating and compelling.

Research Question #2 - How satisfied (loyal) are my current guests and players?

When we measure customer life stages, we closely examine first-time players who enroll in the player club. Sadly, only about 30% of these first-time players ever return. New players are vital to growing your best marketing tool, the database, but they are also among the most expensive to acquire. That’s why its crucial to understand why they aren’t coming back.   

Gambler life stages:

Prospects – Enjoy the sport but just getting started

Acquisition – You got them into the club now will they return

Active players – Frequent your casino brand

Defectors – Play less often or play less per visit than before

Reactivated players – Once were good but now are gone

All gamblers are not created equal. Value and style of play are obvious distinctions that have led casino operators to create loyalty programs with club tiers that scale benefits to reward the best profit contributors.

Over the years, our research has revealed three predominant gambler segments based upon their aspirations during a casino visit.  Most of you who have worked in the industry will recognize these three player types and their vastly different motivations. Interestingly, the largest segment of players is not only the least valuable but also the least loyal. They are loyal to deals, discounts and promotions and will shop competitors to find and exploit the best offers.

Research Question #1 – How will my business be impacted by existing and new competitors?

It’s easy enough for businesses to track current competition – you know who they are and can keep an eye on them. But what about future competition to your business?

With brick-and-mortar casinos, online gaming, skill-based games, lottery terminals, horse racing and eSports betting, the world of casino gaming is always expanding and evolving to appeal to new, broader audiences. Government regulations are catching up with technologic advances, which makes it likely some of these betting alternatives will soon land at a casino near you, just like they did in Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and soon Pennsylvania.

Don’t be complacent in your business, or assume that players have nowhere else to turn. Research can unlock gamblers’ intentions regarding the use of new alternate gaming forms and can help you plan for anticipated changes in gaming behavior. Armed with the proper knowledge, you can develop a plan to address new competition entering the marketplace.

Quality research leads to real results

Answering these four questions can reveal opportunities for new audiences, potential product offerings, pitfalls in service delivery, competition reaction, and marketing reach. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have or help you formulate your casino’s research processes.

“Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong 

Happy learning!

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