Goodbye, Millennials! Sports Betting Is Going To Change With Generation Z

Written By Joss Wood on July 9, 2018 - Last Updated on September 10, 2020

Research published by Barclays bank points out that for the first time, people born in Generation Z now outnumber Millennials. The oldest members of Generation Z are 23, and all businesses, including sports betting operators, need to change up to cater to the new generation.

Research author Hiral Patel classifies Generation Z as those born from 1995 to 2009. Millennials are those born between 1980 and 1994. Her paper, “Introducing Generation Z” sets out some key differences between the two generations’ attitudes in five areas:

  • Technology
  • Financial Habits
  • Values
  • Lifestyle
  • Attitude to work and Education

It’s the parents’ fault

The report argues that these differences arise from:

  • Parenting & Household Dynamics: Millennials were raised by the Baby Boom generation, sometimes known as the “Selfish Generation.” As parents they were indulgent and overprotective as well as economically wealthy. Generation Z was brought up by Generation X, considered to be a more discerning, less financially secure generation.
  • World economy & international affairs: 9/11 was the key event for many Millennials, whereas Generation Z are more affected by the Great Recession of 2008. The explosion of news on social media has made the younger generation more aware of international affairs at a younger age.
  • Technology: Millennials were digital pioneers, adopting the smartphone, broadband internet and social media. Generation Z are “digital natives” who have never experienced a time when these technologies were not an integral part of their life.

The critical point Patel makes in her report is that:

“We fear they are either still trying to adapt their business models to the Millennials or hoping simply to re-use whatever strategies they’ve developed for Millennials on Generation Z. We argue that adopting such a homogenous approach will deliver unsuccessful results as it fails to identify the two generational cohorts as different.”

Less sex, drugs and alcohol

This applies equally to sports betting operators. Ominously one difference is that Generation Z likes “less sex, drugs and alcohol,” than their forebears. Any psychometric test demanding completion of that sequence would probably add “gambling.” If so, marketing sports betting is going to get a whole lot more difficult in the next decade.

One point that is made in the report which offers more optimism is that the new generation is very interested in gaming.

The top two media companies in which Generation Z has an interest are Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts, both are at the forefront of the esports revolution that is ongoing. For internet companies, Tencent also gets a mention, and Tencent seems to own either outright or in part a large part of the video game development industry.

Put both graphics together and what emerges may look confusing to any traditional sports betting marketer, but there are signals as to the way forward.

  • Esports will obviously be a bigger issue for Generation Z, and most sports betting operators have already put together esports betting products alongside their normal sports betting to reflect the Millennial’s interest in the games.
  • The shift from text based information to visually oriented apps points towards some serious web redesign, but also a need to make sports betting more visual and less about numbers. Busier screens that would make a Baby Boomer wince will be child’s play to the new generation
  • Combine this emphasis on the visual with Generation Z’s tiny attention span and the attraction of virtual sports betting becomes more apparent. Virtual sports offer exciting visuals and shorter matches with more frequent betting opportunities. It looks like Generation Z doesn’t want to wait for the outcome of a game before knowing whether they have won or not.

As for traditional sports betting, the idea that Generation Z likes to be more active than the basement-dwelling Millennials suggest that their interest in sports will be more geared to participation that to passively watching on TV.

Either way, their interest in sports looks like it will remain despite competition from esports and passive video game entertainment.

Generation Z is different and it’s growing up quickly. Sports betting needs to begin reacting now before other attractions displace it from Generation Z’s agenda.

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Joss Wood

Joss Wood holds an English degree from the University of Birmingham and also earned a master’s degree in organizational development from the University of Manchester. Joss has a special focus on the international online gambling market, though he also writes extensively on US regulated markets, sports betting, and esports betting.

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