In the UK the online bingo market is now worth an estimated £700 million in gross gaming win every year. There has been a massive growth in the number of people playing online bingo and at the same time there has been a huge increase in the numbers of bingo sites. Currently there are around 250 to 300 online bingo sites in the UK market, and the vast majority of them are using 1 of 3 main bingo products: Globalcom, Virtue Fusion and Parlay. Based on market share figures it is estimated that some 50% of the total bingo gross win is actually earned on the 3 main bingo platforms. With many bingo brands offering the same games on the same platforms there is now little to distinguish them except their branding and marketing. But is this enough and will they be able to stay successful in an increasingly competitive market with an unoriginal product offering?
There is a common argument which says “that if it ain’t broke, why fix it!” Indeed this would seem to make sense when one considers the some of the things which are important to bingo players. For many players learning how to use a bingo site and all its foibles can actually be a challenge. The majority of users are not as technically competent in the navigation of applications than the people who built them. You do not have to look hard to find excruciatingly bad examples of bingo products which have been built for the 26 year old techno-geek developer’s satisfaction. Rather than being built with the 42 year old female user’s ease of navigation from her armchair in
Wolverhampton in mind, it has been used to show off the developer’s skills (or lack of). Therefore, the strategy which Cashcade have adopted of launching multiple brands on a strong and simple platform, makes perfect sense. Having mastered playing bingo at Foxy Bingo a bingo player can effortlessly transfer to the free bingo being played at Cheeky Bingo. A big part of the barrier to user activity is removed once the understand how to make deposits and how to play the bingo. It is this approach which has enabled Cashcade to maximise the activity of their customer base through multiple brands. There is a much better chance of reactivating a lapsed bingo player with a new brand when the player has already mastered the bingo game.
The same effect, although more disparate, can be seen on the Virtue Fusion platform’s multiple brands like Bucky Bingo and Ladbrokes Bingo. In this case Virtue Fusion’s (VF) strong suite of mini-games makes their product a big attraction for existing bingo players. For example, players will take advantage of a new free bingo sign up offer at a new bingo brand with VF because they know exactly what to expect and they can find their favourite slot games. But is marketing and brand all bingo is about? Surely simply shifting players from brand to brand on the same platforms points to product and customer relationship issues. If the users keep lapsing does that not mean that none of the platforms or brands has got it right yet?
It is absolutely human nature to want to try new things and take advantage of special offers, so it is a bit of a stretch to think that the propensity for bingo players to move around points to major product and CRM deficiencies. However, the lack of original great quality bingo products is certainly a major contributor to the market conditions we see. Take the example of Tombola Bingo, surely now the biggest bingo by player numbers, which operates its own bingo games and bingo variants. This site has significantly higher retention rates and loyalty than any other bingo site in the UK market. It is difficult to understand exactly why, but one has to think that unique games which the players cannot get elsewhere are a big factor. Why would any of their bingo players play elsewhere if they like Cinco, Bingo Roulette or Hamster races? Or indeed why would they move from what is one of the most easy to use user interfaces? It is unlikely to be purely coincidence that the site with unique games now has the biggest player numbers.
Whilst it is not 100% clear that all Tombola’s success is attributable to its unique game content certainly a good proportion of it is. Couple the unique content with the excellent distribution that the site enjoyed in national newspapers and the answer is clear. Whilst brands can still build massive marketing led businesses on “me too” products at the moment, will this still be working in 2 years time?
By Sam Cook
Sam Cook is a freelance author writes articles on various game related topics. For more information on Free Bingo Games and Buckingham Bingo Online he suggests you to visit http://www.freebingohunter.com