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Pokémon GO: A New Marketing Tool or Short-Lived Fad?

Pokémon fever is once again gripping people worldwide as the beloved 1990s card game comes to life for millions of smartphone users. If you haven’t heard of Pokémon GO, you’ve probably …well, actually we’re not sure how that would have happened as it has been all people can talk about (on- and off- line) for a week now. Even if you live under a rock, miles from civilization, the mobile game probably sent someone to your side of town in search of Pokémon.

In short, Pokémon GO is a mobile app game sweeping the nation and making a very big impact. And can we just say, it’s pretty fun. It uses augmented reality (AR) to place the original 151 Pokémon characters in the real world. Players can capture creatures like Pikachu and Charmander and find ‘gyms’ where they challenge other players.

Pokemon GO

Sure, the game is not without its problems – issues such as massive data collection, instances of robberies, and huge privacy concerns. Putting these matters aside for the remainder of this blog post we have to revel at how quickly the game’s popularity has grown. Various tracking firms report that it has already amassed more active daily users than Twitter. It has surpassed dating app Tinder in number of installs. There’s also more engagement with the app that Facebook, with users actually spending more minutes per day on Pokémon GO that on the largest social network. SimilarWeb reports that over 60 percent of users in the U.S. who downloaded the app play it on a daily basis. It’s already beat out Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger in terms of total amount of time spent on it daily – on average over 43 minutes a day. Even in countries where the app hasn’t been released yet the numbers are remarkable. (Thus far it is officially available in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.)

Pokemon GO world numbers
See more data on TechCrunch


Is Pokémon GO simply the latest craze, a fad that will soon die out? In light of the staggering statistics, I think not. I see it as a trending topic that won’t go away anytime soon. Why? The app is generating $1.6 million in revenue a day. It’s a realization of a dream for hundreds of thousands of people. People are more than willing to chase this particular ’90s nostalgia and are thrilled about the revival of the franchise.

The app definitely has issues to straighten out. Currently, it drains your phone battery super fast, crashes alarmingly frequently, and lacks instructions. Despite these flaws, people are craving Pokémon GO. Once Nintendo and Niantic Labs (the app creator) make adjustments, fix the glitches, and release new features there’s no stopping them.

Even if it doesn’t have a whole lot of long-term marketing opportunities I encourage everyone to take advantage of the hubbub and share Pokémon-inspired updates on Facebook, send tweets, post a cute Jigglypuff photo on Instagram. Keep in mind that this game gets people out and about, meeting people, running into other players at landmarks, having real-life conversations. Players are discovering new places, new streets, and new businesses. Beyond social media posts, how can brands work those social interactions into their online and offline marketing campaigns to garner genuine interactions with their company?

Here are a few insights to further your Pokémon GO marketing efforts:

If you’re a local business owner, piggyback on the phenomenon that is Pokémon GO.

There is an increase in foot traffic thanks to the game. It draws people outside and sure, they’re only initially near your store to catch an imaginary creature but at least the [poké]ball is in your court. It’s your job to then entice them and make them stay. Whether you’re in tech, travel, retail, or the restaurant business, put more content out. Create more content and tailor it to Pokémon. If you’re a small local business, try a fun sign like the one below to draw people inside.

Photo Source:
Photo Source: Forbes

It’s unclear just how one’s company becomes a Pokéstop (where players go to pick up health items and Poké Balls, etc.) but in general they are located at interesting places like monuments or historical markers. Maybe your building has a cool mural on the outside of it and is a Pokéstop. If so, jump on the proverbial bandwagon and take advantage of this marketing opportunity that was just gifted to you. Do you own a local restaurant or café that’s a Pokéstop or near one? Try adding a Pokémon-inspired menu item and offering a discount to customers who show the app on their phone at the cash register.

You can do more than just feature the game in your marketing or signage. Drop lures to bring in trainers. In the game, lure modules are meant to bring Pokémon to a specific place. In reality, they attract players to a physical location. If your business is near a Pokéstop, you can drop a “lure” for half an hour and briefly swarm your location with Pokémon. Once there is an influx of Pokémon, more players wandering nearby will come over. Lures can be purchased in-game, often for less than $1. Niantic has also confirmed that sponsored locations will be introduced to the app soon so brands can full benefit from the game’s popularity.

Consumption of this game has become so mainstream that is near impossible for it not to impact your business on a daily basis. So embrace the game and make it a fun experience for the players, aka potential customers. For all the players, here’s to your next adventure! Stay safe in your efforts to catch ‘em all.


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