It's not often you hear from an arbitrator that they've set their sights on women, diving into gambling, and overall, it's not surprising. It's commonly believed that women are less inclined to take risks than men, and therefore, they don't engage in casino gaming. However, in recent times, the gap between the number of men and women involved in gambling is noticeably narrowing. Statistics showing that women make up less than 30% of the gambling audience are no longer particularly relevant.
We will try to delve deeper into this topic and demonstrate that by ignoring the female audience, you are losing traffic. Let's explore how gambling fits into the lives of women and how they interact with various products within the vertical. Let's understand how gambling aligns with women's lives and how they engage with different products in the industry.
According to a study by the National Gambling Commission (United Kingdom) as of September 2022:
- From June to September 2022, 42% of surveyed British women engaged in gambling activities, including lotteries, scratch cards, and bingo.
- From 2011 to 2017, there was an 8% increase in the number of women involved in gambling, particularly among women aged 35 and older.
- Furthermore, an increasing number of women are transitioning to online gambling products, and in the age group of 45-64-year-old players, there are more women than men.
Data analyzed by NatCen and the University of Liverpool reveals that women with gambling accounts typically play more frequently, for longer durations, and spend more compared to men.
What motivates women to play
Online casinos and slot machines often attract women who want to spend some time alone and relax, for example, at the end of the workday or during a lunch break. There are many different reasons:
- Life changes such as retirement or divorce
- Desire for solitude and anonymity, a way to escape from reality
- Coping with strong emotions, depression, anxiety
- Stress relief, distraction, and relaxation
In 95% of cases, female gamblers are primarily drawn to the opportunity to escape from reality. Slot machines, video poker, lotteries, and bingo are particularly popular.
How do women get involved
Indeed, women are not as straightforward an audience as men, for example:
- Women usually don't get involved as quickly as men do.
- They are attracted to not all types of gambling that are popular among men.
- They typically have lower income and, consequently, are often less financially capable.
It's no secret that women were traditionally excluded from the gambling environment. As Balin Mandson, the casino owner from the 1946 Hollywood noir film 'Gilda,' once said: 'Gambling and women don't mix' — they distract both players and dealers.
However, in today's high-tech era, women don't need to prove anything to anyone. They have smartphones and internet access, which means they can play bingo or poker or any other game while remaining in a comfortable and safe environment, free from ridicule, labels, and unwanted attention.
Furthermore, gambling is currently at a stage of social and cultural acceptance where, for some young women, spending time playing has become a part of social rituals and a way to have fun with friends.
Men and women consume and interact with products differently. Marketers take this into account when developing advertising strategies (even though the developed world is moving towards gender neutrality — today's topic is not about that).
Women, as a rule, value their connection with others and a sense of belonging to a specific group, and they also strive for success, which is defined by high standards of physical beauty and self-confidence. This is what alcohol and tobacco marketers, initially oriented towards men, used. Wanting to increase their market share, brands with a predominantly male customer base began targeting female audiences. They adapted their products and advertising campaigns to the new target audience, positioning tobacco/alcohol products as a way to satisfy women's needs and values.
To appeal to the female audience, marketers utilized relevant themes such as glamour, independence, and entertainment. Adapted advertising for products was placed in fashion magazines, brands sponsored fashion shows, dance competitions, and festivals, and also collaborated with celebrities, ultimately gaining the trust of women and establishing social acceptability.
This is something we can take note of for the advertising of gambling products.
Of course, it can't be said that the gambling industry is in a vacuum, and no one has thought that women represent a potentially large and profitable audience. For example, the British online casino PinkCasino positions itself as a female brand, has an appropriate design, and features attractive women as dealers in their live casino, with subtle and non-provocative makeup (which is less popular among the male audience). The website even has a 'Safer Gambling' section, reminding players of safety rules and how to prevent enjoyable pastime from turning into addiction (which may have limited real-world impact but conveys a sense of care, and that's important).
Today, a whole typology of marketing strategies has been developed for engaging women in interactions with alcoholic and tobacco products, as well as in gambling, respectively (but let's keep this between us — whoever worked on this typology clearly had different intentions).
Strategy 1: Self-image. According to this strategy, brands and products appeal to concepts of beauty, luxury, and fashion, positioning themselves accordingly. Remember the girl sitting on the windowsill, looking out the window, with a coffee mug next to her and a cigarette in her hand — it's on avatars all over the world, and how many songs have been sung about it! Smoking has become aesthetic and trendy.
Strategy 2: Empowerment. In this strategy, brands use confidence, success, victories, and exclusivity as emotional triggers.
Strategy 3: Social connections and acceptance. When using this strategy, attention is focused on how the brand or product allows women to be part of a community and not feel isolated. The perfect example is two words: smoking area and socializing, and it's instantly clear, no further explanation needed. I'm sure you can recall a few stories of someone starting to smoke in college or at work for the sake of networking.
Strategy 4: Feminizing the product. When using this strategy, female celebrities are invited to collaborate, the product is given new characteristics (new design, new taste, new service features, etc.), and advertising is placed in locations frequented by women (female sports events, TV shows, women's forums, music shows, etc.).
Strategy 5: Strategic integration. This strategy involves incorporating the product into existing social rituals. The simplest example is the association between champagne and New Year's Eve. Similarly, online gambling can be integrated, for instance, alongside binge-watching TV series, scrolling through social media feeds, and chatting with friends.
So, we have some food for thought. The experience of related industries (in terms of gender stereotypes) shows that to capture a new target audience, all you need is to work on positioning and choose the right marketing strategy, and then it's just a matter of testing and noting what resonates and what doesn't.