Marketing to Millennials has become a major topic of conversation and there have been several presentations on the e-gaming conference circuit this last few months. There is good reason for the interest. This demographic grouping a large one, even larger than the “baby boomers”.

The definition of a Millennial is someone born between 1982 to 2004 making them aged between 13 years to 35 years.  As such, approximately fourteen percent cannot vote, and cannot gamble.Of the other 86% I would suspect that at least half would have no interest in gambling at all. Fashion, music, dating, drinking yes. Gambling?  I doubt it. 
So how do gambling companies reach out to those that do, and what products are likely to interest them?  

First, we need to understand this generation better because they are fundamentally different to all the previous generations that have gone before them.  They have grown up with digital devices at their fingertips.

In some quarters, they are regarded as the entitled generation. It is a generation that has more access to information than any previous generation.  Segment of this demographic are said to be dissatisfied because what they have been promised is not being fulfilled.  

Their mothers told them they were great, told them they could have all they wanted and were destined to achieve great things.  The same mothers criticised their teachers for not giving higher grades at school.  The teachers responded by giving higher grades that were not merited.  On sports day, it was “prizes for all” regardless of whether or not you finished first or last. 

Many millennials were persuaded (in the UK it was the government egging them on) to go to university, when it was not the right path for them.  These graduates now have worthless degrees and thousands in student loan debt. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wages for the typical recent college graduate working full time have risen just 1.6 percent over the last 25 years, after adjusting for inflation. At the same time, student debt burdens for the typical bachelor’s degree recipient who borrowed for college have increased by about 163.8 percent. 


Millennials are claimed to be less interested in politics than the previous generation.  The pervading view is that regardless of who you vote for the result is the same.   

An ex-Royal Marine officer told me that for the British Army millennials are a problem.  If ordered to scrub the floor they say ‘Why me and not him?’ In the battlefield scenario, you cannot afford to have commands questioned.  

The Russian prima ballerina, Diana Vishneva recently told the Daily Telegraph, “Today’s ballet students are too concerned with their own happiness, they are lazy, weaker than the previous generation, and internet is taking their attention away from what needs to be done”.

But Professor Robert Winston has come to their rescue.  In the updated programme, Child of Our Time he maintains that most Millennials handle social media sensibly and with more maturity than we give them credit for.  The programme also states that this generation smokes less, drinks less, and has less sex than the previous generation so there is a misconception that they are out of control, narcissistic, and screen fixated.  The programmes does note that deference to authority has all but vanished.  

From a marketing perspective, Millennials demand high standards of service and they are impressed by celebrity and brands.  They have seen people with no talent and few attributes other than a Facebook page, and a video on YouTube become celebrities, and they aspire to become one.  

Marketing to this group is a challenge. Research shows that only 31% look at traditional display adverts whereas baby boomers look at 83%.  91% own a smart phone which they check 110 times a day on average.  If they are unable to connect to the internet they panic, their heart rates surge, they become stressed. 93% admit to using a phone in bed. 45% block mobile ads. 40% are prepared to spend more money on a product providing a good cause is attached to it, such as fair trade coffee.

The smart phone has become an extension of their person.  In the morning, they wake to the phone’s alarm, check Facebook to see if the meal they ate last night and photographed has any likes, eat breakfast while checking messages, catch the train to work, pay for the ticket with Apple pay.  Check bank account while on the move, and watch a film or listen to Spotify. Arrange lunch with friends via WhatsApp and find the restaurant and get directions via Google maps. 

To reach this generation successfully a mobile solution is essential. During June 2016, the time of the EU referendum in the UK, the Daily Telegraph added 4.2m new visitors and the Guardian 3.4m.  Euro 2016 and Wimbledon saw sports sites’ visitors soar, BBC sport alone captured 12 million unique visitors.  Mostly all from mobile. 

The gambling industry has always been at the forefront of mobile development, way ahead of the banks, financial institutions and retailers.  They have led the way, developed great software programming skills that is now being utilised by the rest of industry and commerce.  A plus for the economy.

At the recent Westminster e-forum on gambling, Wanda Goldwag, the chair of Senet Group, was critical of betting advertising. It was too “in your face” for her liking but she was forgetting that the first batch of adverts which tried to use more humour were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The combination of restrictions on how gambling can be portrayed in adverts and the Millennials’ penchant for celebrity endorsements, marketing in to this group is far from easy. Think SFM – simple, fast, mobile.

by Warwick Bartlett