Inside Asian Gaming

February 2008 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING 47 Casino Marketing I nnovation in the casino industry is rare these days. Our industry has been labeled a copy-cat industry since we tend to copy more than we create. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is legal and everyone benefits. However, there is still plenty of room for creativity and innovation in casinos. This month’s kudos for casino innovation goes to Mike Barlow, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Twin River Casino and the Twin River Casinomanagement team.Mike and the executive teamat Twin River Casino are the first casino management team to make an innovative decision to private label an energy drink for their casino. Beverage sales in the United States alone are now US$60 billion a year. Energy drinks are the fastest growing segment of this market. Five years ago, energy drink sales in the United States were a mere $12 million for the year.Last year,energy drink sales topped $1 billion and are increasing rapidly. That represents phenomenal growth for any industry. So,why a private label Twin River Casino energy drink? According to Mike Barlow, their casino currently gives away or sells a huge number of cans of energy drink every month to either customers playing on the casino floor or in their various restaurants or lounges. His investigation revealed that the energy drinks were being consumed by their younger casino customers and also by their Asian customers. Both of these market segments are very high on Twin River’s list of priority markets in its strategic marketing plan.The casino wants to increase the percentage of younger players, and to that end, has started to vary its entertainment offering. Twin River Casino reviewed its current marketing offers designed to attract younger players along with many other variable factors and realized that the younger players,alongwith Asian players,were the ones consuming high amounts of energy drinks both on the casino floor and in the lounges. However, the cost per unit of a can of commercial energy drink is quite high in comparison to a soft drink, a coffee or an alcoholic beverage. Cost effective Mike remembered that five years ago, if you walked into a casino and asked for a bottle of water, you only had two choices.Those two choices were either Perrier or Evian bottled water.Today, if you go to just about any casino and ask for a bottle of water you will receive a bottle of private labeled water with the casinos name on the label. The attraction of having a private label is that it is not only prestigious to be able to have your own brand on the bottle, but from a business viewpoint it is also extremely cost effective. Private label bottled water is considerably less expensive than Perrier or Evian. This stimulated the thought process and the Twin River Casino management team concluded that if they wanted to increase casino business from both younger players and from Asian players, then they had to give them what they wanted to drink, which was energy drinks. The dilemma that they faced was that the current range of commercial energy drinks is very expensive. Mike did some research and found the leading company specializing in private label energy drinks. The company does everything from custom developing the formula to designing the can label and artwork to incorporate the casino or company name and logo. The really interesting part that they learned was that the cost of private labeling your own top quality energy drink is substantially less than purchasing commercial brands including the current market leading brand. Therefore, the net cost savings to the casino from going private label will enable them to give away their own casino energy drink to anyone playing on their casino floor. They are very excited about this and have arranged Revitalizing Drink Steve Karoul discovers a casino marketing idea that gives you wings