Understanding the opportunity in Asia
The Asian market presents a uniquely large opportunity for online sportsbook operators of all shapes and sizes, but in order to succeed operators must get their proposition exactly right from day one.
Asia markets are simultaneously electrifying and unforgiving, coupled with very high customer expectation. If the customer feels that their needs are not met, they will simply go elsewhere and are less likely to return than in other more traditional markets.
This means that operators entering the region must do so with a highly sophisticated product and service offering that has been customised and localised for each market.
That is easier said than done, but by understanding the quirks of the market and focusing on a number of principal points, operators can leverage the huge potential on the table.
Below, I take a closer look at the challenges Asia presents for operators seeking to enter the market for the first time and how they can be overcome to ensure they launch with a product that succeeds.
No second chances:
Asia is different to other markets in that customers do not often give operators a second chance. If they don’t like the product or service they receive, they often just walk away.
In most cases they will not raise an issue with customer support or make a complaint, they will simply close their account and sign up and wager somewhere else.
Customers in Asian markets are (rightly) demanding and expect to receive a similar experience to what is offered from other entertainment options such as esports and video and mobile gaming.
Asia as a region has a large number of gamers and esports followers, and online sportsbooks can and should learn a lot from the customer experience being offered across this sector.
These learnings should be used to ensure their proposition is not just simply on par with what is being offered in other sectors, but actually sets the standard for those sectors to follow.
This applies to all areas, from design and technology to customer service, payments and marketing.
These are the four key areas operators must get right:
1) Customer UI – if the sportsbook is not sleek and intuitive it will not resonate with Asian players accustomed to seamless UIs offered with other entertainment options.
2) Modern technology stack – operators need to be able to customise and localise their products and services and this requires a cutting-edge, modular platform.
3) Marketing and branding – know how to connect with your customers on an emotional level and tap into their love of sports and betting.
4) Pricing Strategy – key markets should certainly be priced competitively but a race to the bottom should be avoided at all costs as customers understand quality.
Getting it right from the get-go:
The only way to ensure that operators enter the Asia market with the best possible product and service offering from day one is to thoroughly research the countries they are entering.
Like the rest of the global online gambling sector, regions should ideally be broken down into individual countries due to the hugely different player expectations in each.
As part of the market research undertaken, it is crucial that operators identify exactly what players are seeking, from the sports and bet types offered to the payment options they favour.
Operators should also consider the types of bet that will work best in the Asian market they are entering. I personally believe that prop betting and under/over bets are a great way of engaging with your customers.
Why? Because these types of bet are a great way of getting people involved, take the fun factor to the max and can be further leveraged for player acquisition and retention purposes.
Prop bets are also incredibly popular in the world of esports which, as mentioned above, should be a part of the blueprint for the type of player experience sportsbooks need to be offering players in Asia.
Quality is absolutely key:
While the Asian market is still relatively untapped, it is competitive and to make an impact, operators must offer a quality experience to players across all areas.
Of course, this requires a strong foundation. In this regard, a cutting-edge platform and technology stack is a clear pre-requisite for success.
This, combined with a comprehensive understanding of the market and player preferences, will enable operators to create the quality experience required and stand out from those already live.
Asia may be unforgiving for those that don’t quite hit the mark, but for those that do the region offers unrivalled potential and opportunity for the taking, especially as the market matures.