Codere: Key to international success is evolving alongside customers

Carlos Sabanza of Codere explains how the multnational operator is understanding the changing needs of its players across the world.
Image: Codere

In Latin America, many international companies often arrive seeking to benefit from a public that has historically proven to be engaged, in all kinds of areas. Multinationals come and go, settle and share their brand without personalizing their products, taking advantage of being recognized globally.

However, to build a long-term bond with the customer, it’s necessary to offer products and benefits that cover the needs or preferences and protect them against any inconvenience.

In the gambling industry, the Spanish multinational Codere has a network that has been operating for four decades in established jurisdictions, and that has allowed the company to quickly penetrate new verticals, as in the case of the City of Buenos Aires at the end of 2021.

Carlos Sabanza, Sponsorship & PR Manager at Codere

Carlos Sabanza, Sponsorship & PR Manager at Codere, believes that the key to establishing the company and remaining active in the industry has been to evolve alongside customers, understand their needs and respond to them through experience, offering guarantees to the user.

The company, which operates in five Latin American countries -Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay- and in Spain and Italy in Europe, is an example for anyone trying to expand their business beyond their home country.

Retail’s force and the online domination, as well as football sponsorships and marketing campaigns, have led to the company’s brand being recognized as one of the most valuable in Brand Finance Spain 2022 and one of the most relevant in The 500 most important companies in Mexico from Expansión’s ranking.

Despite having achieved what many aspire to, for Codere, transparency and responsibility must remain a constant effort within the industry. These are key points that anyone interested in being a force in LatAm should consider, as the ultimate goal is “to give the industry the spotlight that it deserves as an entertainment, employment, and wealth creator.”

“We would like these values ​​to be an example for other companies so that we can continue to grow as a committed industry,” said Sabanza, who when giving advice to companies seeking market share, mentioned that the gaming offer must provide all the guarantees for customers, meaning that there must be strict regulatory compliance.

Although the pandemic has accelerated regulations in multiple jurisdictions, it has also drastically affected the gambling industry, which had to face unimaginable challenges. The current situation, according to Codere’s Sponsorship Manager, continues to be challenging at a global level, since there’s a possibility of a recession in several markets.

Codere, however, has been able to adapt and has already recovered 91% of its pre-COVID-19 revenue. Now, the goal is to “manage such a dynamic environment, in which regulatory, technological and operational changes happen quickly.”

A responsible gaming framework should also exist, one with the right approach. As a Spanish company that has experienced several regulatory changes, such as the recent introduction of the Royal Decree that limits advertising, Sabanza believes that it’s necessary to ensure sustainable growth and to protect the user, administrations, and operators with data as the main basis from the beginning.

“It’s a highly regulated sector. Latin America is being very careful with these topics,” he added. In this sense, the company has already won several awards for its work around social responsibility and its commitment to responsible gaming.

“[It’s] a core task for the company since its inception and something that we have intensely considered since the creation of the first responsible gaming program in 2018 in Spain. We were the first company to implement such initiatives.”

As an example, “a social alarm was activated that didn’t match the reality of the industry in Spain,” just for having an over-exposed online gambling offer without proper commercial regulation.

“There wasn’t more gambling [activity], nor was there a higher incidence of problem gambling behavior. This experience showed the importance of adequate regulation.”

Sponsorships: the key to customer retention

Although the Latin American region is still not as mature or consolidated as some countries in Europe, like Italy or the UK, others like Colombia or Mexico are highly competitive, something that benefits the sector and its visibility, and offers multiple sponsorship options.

“There are still many opportunities around sponsorships that we are exploring with the new regulations, such as in Argentina, and in other countries working towards a new framework. Without a doubt, sponsorships are an important boost for the brand and key to promote sports betting,” he commented.

Currently, Codere is the main sponsor of three football forces – Real Madrid C.F., Club de Fútbol Monterrey Rayados, and Club Atlético River Plate. The last two feature the brand on the front of their jerseys, representing a milestone in local associations.

The company has made a significant effort to localize its marketing strategy and to develop campaigns aimed at different markets and clients, connecting directly with the end user and achieving greater efficiency in its communications campaigns, something that ultimately consolidates the brand, as Sabanza explained.

In Argentina, being the main sponsor of a club like River Plate has helped Codere reach local customers, through a “much more lively and close” experience and sharing values such as leadership, fair play, and quality entertainment.

This sponsorship not only helps Codere to make a difference by offering unique experiences but also promotes all the benefits of making this industry visible.

Moreover, the sponsorship has allowed Codere “to reach the public in the country in the best possible way, offering customers the best brand experience with an omni-channel product offering.”

“Joining one of the largest sports institutions in the world positions us in a relevant way on our clear journey in Latin America. To break into markets where not everyone knows you, the association with such iconic brands offers credibility and positions us as a serious operator with whom customers feel safe betting.”

Having a license in the City of Buenos Aires, one of the markets with the greatest potential in the region, and becoming River Plate’s Official Bookmaker, is a fundamental milestone in Codere’s business plan in Argentina, where it has been operating since 1992.

The visibility that this four-year deal will provide also helps “bringing these distinct and unique experiences closer to our clients through activations.”

“Through this alliance, both entities have achieved a better relationship with the Argentinian public, thanks to the different activations and experiences shared with our followers. Additionally, this new phase will allow us to continue promoting our brand together and to provide the best omnichannel entertainment and the best support for sports, as we have been doing for several years,” he added.

Taking into account that the FIFA World Cup 2022 will take place at the end of the year, companies must prepare to receive a new wave of clients. How does it influence a market with new regulations?

Carlos Sabanza believes that the initial growth will be very high, as many people have been waiting for a long time to be able to play legally in a regulated industry.

“This situation will make the markets more attractive, especially when it comes to sports betting. This can also contribute to speeding up regulations in some regions, something that is very beneficial for us and the industry in general.”

As for Codere, the priority is to generate an attractive offer so that these potential new players choose the company during the World Cup, and to ensure that the performance and stability of the platform are optimal at a technological level.

To prepare for the World Cup, Codere has invested time in improving its sports betting platform, to make it more stable, robust, dynamic, and attractive, with a wide range of games, especially casino ones.

In addition, Sabanza revealed that they have recently integrated technological solutions to make sports betting apps and services faster, “as customers demand and value very positively.”

They have also improved the usability of the platform to allow accumulator bets from the same screen and on the same ticket, they have made progress in improving the user experience on the front-end and in data access and analysis, both before and during the events.

As an example, Sabanza mentioned that Codere has promoted branded games with sponsors, and has integrated other payment apps and tools such as a betting predictor in Mexico.

At a differentiation level, Codere is known for focusing on the local market and the preferences of customers in each country. They have achieved this by partnering with local brands, offering physical and online channels to access the offer, and localized customer service.

“This closeness is something that few operators can provide and that undoubtedly increases the commitment of our customers in the region,” he assured.

Finally, Sabanza shared his prediction for the World Cup, and said that the candidates will be Argentina, Brazil, France, and Germany, although he is positive that “a team will emerge [as a top candidate] that nobody counted on and will shake up this tournament.” While he didn’t commit to naming one country, he stayed true to the industry and said that he would “bet on one of those four options.”