Q&A: Christena Garduno Of Media Culture Says Online Gambling Operators Should Target Gen Z

Posted on February 18, 2022 by Media Culture

This article was originally published on US Online Poker

Online gambling operators should orient their marketing toward targeting Gen Z bettors. So says Christena Garduno, CEO of Dallas-based Media Culture, a multichannel brand response media agency.

According to Garduno, that demographic represents “the path to success.”

She explained to Online Poker Report why that’s the best marketing strategy for online gambling operators, despite current data showing the average online gambler is firmly in the millennial category. The median age of current online gamblers is 34, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

The oldest members of Gen Z are 25, according to the definition used by Pew Research Center.

Targeting that demographic will of course be part of any marketing mix. However Gen Z represents the longest potential lifetime value of any demographic, at least among those already of legal age.

That warrants special attention, despite the equally obvious fact that older generations have more disposable income than Gen Z, even Millennials, despite their reputation for being cash-strapped. At the moment, most Gen Z individuals are still in school or just starting out in their careers.

Meanwhile, US online casino operators mistakenly tend to model their marketing on what works in their retail casinos, Garduno opines. NCPG finds those retail casino gamblers tilt even older. For retail gamblers, the median age is 44. Only lottery players are older, with a median of 47. That puts both of those groups of gamblers in the Gen X cohort.

Garduno shared with OPR why the Gen Z players are the best bet for online gambling operators.

OPR’s questions here are in bold and Garduno’s quotes follow.

Should online gambling operators change their marketing to be Gen Z-centric? How?

Yes. They should adapt to include a component of Gen Z-centric marketing in their overall marketing mix. Historically, online gaming operators have taken their lead from retail casinos; however, retail casinos are more targeted to the Gen X crowd, not the Gen Z crowd.

Being more engaged with the Gen Z crowd has always been the path to success. Their shorter attention spans demand it. Getting them involved in the content creation, to make their experience more personal, is a key shift that marketers need to make. A form of gamification should always be considered here.

Finally, marketing towards them as a lifetime customer, over a short big burst, will ensure a deeper commitment that will be more beneficial for the operator.

If they are segmenting their audience, how are they messaging them? Using personas?

Segmentation in gaming has had a consistent presence since the onset of PC (and more recently mobile) gaming became the dominant vehicle. Personas play a role, along with those deeper touch points within the gamification funnel.

Are they using preference centers to decide on messaging channels? Or researching the best channels to reach their target audience?

Researching the most dominant channels to reach the target audience holds true for online gambling marketers. Additionally, cross-sectional studies around reward systems within the games themselves can reveal deeper ways to engage the audience within the most used channels.

What’s the plurality of operators’ marketing audience, in terms of generations and/or age brackets?

Online gambling covers a diverse audience. The younger side leans further into the excitement around sports betting, while the older side looks for more methodical games that engage their visual and audio sensations. Within each of these age brackets there are groups looking for more meaningful mind exercises within their gaming experiences, with others simply looking for easy, quick, and fun gambling.

Are you seeing online gambling operators use influencers?

Having brand ambassadors for the various online gambling sectors has been a proven part of the marketing strategy. And the breadth of these ambassadors is as wide as the online gambling industry itself. To name some: Charles Barkley and then Jordan Spieth with FanDuel; Roger Federer and then Anthony Alfredo (NASCAR) with Golden Nugget. The DraftKings weekly celebrity ‘Reignmakers’ campaign was one of the more creative ways to rotate in a variety of celebrating influencers within their gaming environment itself.

Do you find that Gen Z wants poker/online gambling education, coaching and responsible gambling messages?

Gen Z does look for education and coaching within the games, but in ways that are more engaging and less instructional. They convert in these spaces with relative ease.

Does this audience look different from older audiences?

The make up of the Gen Z online gambling audience has similar skews as the older gambling audiences in regard to gender (more male). In most cases, they have less disposable income, but aspire to acquire more through their gaming efforts.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Online gambling is a global affair that tends to be lead by regions with less restrictions than what we have here in the US. Taking cues on successful marketing tactics from some of the other leaders in the space from other regions is a great way to kick start your marketing discussions state-side.

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