MGM Resorts International encompasses some of the world’s most famous hospitality and entertainment brands. You’ve almost certainly heard of Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage, ARIA and many of the others.
The reality is, though, that while our brands are famous around the globe, MGM Resorts International did not enjoy that same level of awareness as a brand. As we expanded our footprint around the globe during the last decade, executing on a well thought-out strategic plan, one of our primary goals was to put a stake in the ground for our parent company: to transform the perception of MGM Resorts as a builder of gaming destinations into one of a leading global entertainment brand.
At our core, we are an entertainment company with a deep-seated belief that entertainment is fundamental to the human experience. It wasn’t enough for us to believe that, though. In fact, it may even sound a bit frivolous. So, we endeavored to conduct research that would prove out our positioning and provide us with a framework from which we could launch our multi-platform integrated marketing campaign.
Conducted by the McCann Worldgroup marketing agency’s Truth Central consumer insight unit, our “Truth About Entertainment” study looked at underlying entertainment consumption trends in the U.S., China and Japan. The findings, based on a representative sample of about 2,000 people in each of the three countries, confirmed our core belief-- entertainment fulfills an important basic need in people’s lives, and live entertainment, in particular, is increasingly valued as integral to health and happiness. Yes, you read that right. Entertainment is essential to our overall happiness.
The survey reveals that entertainment matters deeply to people. Far from being peripheral, they view it as essential to their identity and overall health and well-being. More than 90% of the respondents in the U.S. and China, and more than 80% in Japan, said that they saw entertainment as a fundamental contributor to their health and happiness. An equal percentage in each of the three countries reported that they could not imagine their lives without their favorite books, music, films, bands and sports. Additionally, a substantial majority of respondents in each country (80% in China, about three-quarters in the U.S. and about two-thirds in Japan) said that entertainment influenced the person they are today, while as many as 71% in China, 60%in the U.S. and just over half in Japan acknowledged that they have a go-to source for entertainment when they feel happy.
Supported by the research findings, we developed and executed our first corporate brand marketing campaign around the theme “Welcome to the Show.” Designed to capture the excitement, magic and scope of our live and theatrical entertainment experiences combined with immersive dining, nightlife and hospitality amenities, Welcome to the Show connects all of our brands together to reflect the unrivaled portfolio of which we are so proud.
When developing this marketing program, our view was that the brand launch had to do more than showcase who and what we are today. It needed to speak to our future as well, a signal to the world that we will continue to grow as a global entertainment brand. We wanted to be sure that our commitment to live and theatrical experiences would remain a powerful and durable strategic platform even as the public’s entertainment options continue to widen across a spectrum of new advanced technologies. After all, our transformation plan itself was launched years ago in a much less developed digital entertainment environment than today’s. We needed to understand what, if any, has been the impact of the growth of digital entertainment and would we continue to remain relevant?
What we learned is that the growth of digital content is not replacing people’s desire for live entertainment. Quite the opposite, in fact. The research uncovered that as digital content increases, so too does the desire for live experiences. A full two-thirds of the American respondents (and a little more than half of people each in China and Japan) said they would even be willing to get rid of all online entertainment, whether Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, or others, in order to preserve the opportunity to experience live entertainment. This was the statistic that most surprises me. I watch people on these channels – they don’t look to me like they are that willing to give them up! And about 80% in China and about 60% in the U.S. said that the more time they spent with a screen, the more they craved live entertainment; almost three-quarters of all Chinese respondents indicated that they went to see live performances of acts they first saw online. There’s a hunger for live entertainment that connects us all.
Significantly, the study also showed a gap between how much entertainment people wanted in their lives versus what they were actually experiencing. The vast majority of those surveyed see entertainment as important to their happiness, health and very identity. And yet, half of the U.S respondents cited not enough time and too many responsibilities as barriers to this experience, and the numbers were even higher in Asia (59% in Japan, 55% in China). Moreover, a sizable minority (36% China; 28% Japan; 23% US) even said that having too much fun makes them feel guilty. The lack of available time is not the only obstacle to people enjoying entertainment experiences. People also cited a lack of access and an unprecedented overwhelming number of entertainment options causing choice paralysis. And as a larger statement about the landscape in which we live, the “Truth About Entertainment” study highlighted what might be called a rise of loneliness due to hyper-customization, niche content and isolated viewing. This was pretty heavy stuff, considering we are talking about entertainment, after all.
So what did we take away from all of this? First and foremost – entertainment matters. And, as the entertainment landscape continues to evolve, the live, awe-inspiring, shared entertainment experiences we offer under the MGM Resorts umbrella will only become more valued by people. With that as a foundation, we are able to make decisions about how our amenities and offerings evolve. Sports are important – we purchased a WNBA franchise and will launch the Las Vegas Aces at Mandalay Bay this spring. We continue to announce major sporting and concert events at our venues.
Entertainment is fundamental to who we are at MGM Resorts. And in all likelihood, as you read this, you’re realizing it’s fairly fundamental in your world as well.