Never before has the gambling industry had so many new channels presenting opportunities for offering betting experiences right where the customer is. First came betting shops, and if you were lucky there was one in your neighbourhood. Then came websites, smartphones, digital TV, apps… more and more channels, closer and closer to the customer. So, what’s next? I would argue the answer is messaging apps; WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.
First of all, these apps are truly ubiquitous, each having upwards or beyond a billion of users world-wide. Second of all, users spend a lot of time in these apps – as much as an hour of their free time every day. What’s more, data on app usage shows that smartphone owners spend a vast majority of their time on fewer and fewer apps. The competition for smartphone users’ time is fierce.
Combining this with the emergence and growth of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence bots and natural language processing, companies are bestowed with opportunities to offer their services directly within these messaging apps.
Why go through the difficult and expensive process of getting customers to (1) download and (2) frequently use your app, when you could reach them directly within the apps they already frequent? Call it the path of lesser resistance.
In China, WeChat users are already shopping for clothes and food, and hail cabs directly within the app. And Kindred expects these practices to spread and become increasingly ubiquitous in Europe over the course of the next few years. These apps are evolving from communication platforms into full-blown transactional ecosystems.
The opportunity does promise the moon and the stars in terms of convenience and simplicity for the customer, but there are commercial challenges to address and solve. When designing for some of these new channels, be it messaging apps or Amazon Alexa in your living room, businesses will inevitably lose control of the overall user experience. If channels like this took over, it could fundamentally transform how customers interact with businesses, gambling companies included.
- What does this mean for brand affinity?
- How can an operator differentiate from the competition if placing a bet is simply asking a question or interacting with a bot, albeit a highly intelligent one?
At the end of the day, potential disruption awaits around every corner a business passes. At Kindred we always seek to innovate, regardless of the risk of disrupting yourself. Companies who resist or fight changes that ultimately will bring benefits to the customers, tend to wind up on the losing side in the long run.
Our Strategic Intelligence & Planning team is constantly monitoring the world around us, making sure we’re keeping abreast with large consumer and technology trends. When opportunities are spotted, our recently founded Kindred Futures organisation allows us to collaborate with creative and talented start-up communities from around the world; to experiment and co-create products and services of tomorrow.