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Consumer Experience-Using Demographics to Target Trends

By: Howard McAuliffe, Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Consumer trends are frequently discussed at a surface level.  At the core, a trend is a new way to serve an age-old human need for things like excitement, relevance, security, connection, social status, interactions, and simplicity.  A trend is not a specific product, service, or experience but new manifestations of behaviors and attitudes towards these things.  In our industry, we are currently fitting into current manifestations of attitudes towards excitement, relevance, connection, and interactions.

Excitement- The games being manufactured currently are the best we’ve ever seen.   Manufacturers are creating products that consistently provide customers with an experience they can’t get at home.  Ditto for Virtual Reality (VR). Consumer VR products have largely failed, and major companies are shifting development to out of home entertainment products.

Relevance- American Consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, are far more interested in experiences than things.   Last year at Amusement Expo a representative of Caesar’s Palace explained that the casinos often make more profit from nightclubs than gambling.  He specifically mentioned that most millennials will spend $10 for a drink in a good club but will not spend it on a gaming table.  Experiences are more relevant than things to younger consumers.  Think about how often you see social media posts about vacations or other experiences compared to a new car or other product.

Connection and Interactions- The arcade of today, if intentionally designed well, targets multiple generations, so that grandparents, parents, and kids of all ages have something for them each to enjoy.  This means all of these groups can connect by playing together, as well as with their individual peer groups in the same space.  In addition, arcades are typically combined with food and beverage, bowling, and/or hotels all of which are similarly able to be enjoyed by multiple generations.

Currently, our industry is in a boom, and most of us are very busy fulfilling orders and servicing clients due to our collective success at fulfilling the above trend drivers.   We can do even better by understanding not only what works, but why it is working.  When we have an understanding of why consumers are motivated, we can then begin to look even deeper at how to motivate specific groups we may be overlooking.

We often talk about families and millennials but how many of us are intentional about designing for Baby Boomers?  Many in the United States don’t target this group enough: “72% of marketers systematically underestimate spending by consumers aged 55 or older” (Age of Majority Oct 2017).  According to the Multicultural Economy report from the University of Georgia, other demographics to consider learning about are Asian-Americans with a spending growth rate of 257% since the year 2000, and Hispanics with a spending growth rate of 180%. These numbers compared to 87% of the spending growth rate of White Americans.   Baby Boomers, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans are just a few groups that might be overlooked.  Whatever the demographics, psychographics, or other profile of your community, consider the trend drivers above related to basic human needs and how your facility can meet them.  The specifics of how will vary by group and facility, but the value of doing so is universal.