The pandemonium of Pokemon GO is spreading and going global soon. As the augmented reality game hits the shores of Asia and Europe, it’s important to reflect on some of the key learnings that marketers can take away from its success:

1. Millennial Nostalgia – Most everyone between the ages of 16 to 35 years old has been exposed to Pokemon sometime in their life. Older millennials probably remember the cartoons, Nintendo games and Pokemon cards from their late elementary and middle school days. Even if you didn’t try to ‘catch ‘em all”, you were exposed to the craze through TV advertisements, toy stores, and school cafeterias. Having Pokemon come back to life through augmented reality that can be fun to try for Millennials of all ages has a special kind of nostalgia with a futuristic technology that we are not accustomed to seeing. This is the start of more to augmented reality, in addition to virtual reality, to come.

  • Why should Marketers take note? Speaking to mass audiences, such as Millennials, with a concept, brand or product that most people recognize from their youth automatically garners consumer interest due to a nostalgia factor. When a brand you recognize from your past comes back to life many years later, consumers are intrigued to re-familiarize themselves with that brand. It’s human nature and marketers should consider the nostalgia effect in their message as they play into the heart strings of their consumer. Done well, this can lead to tremendous engagement and success. Just think of the hashtag #TBT on social media, or the massive success of superhero movies or the return of crispy M&Ms.   


2. Simple, Easy Fun – Pokemon GO is very simple to start playing and easy to catch on the concept of catching Pokemon, evolving them, and putting them into battle. The interface is clean, the game has cheerful background music, and anyone can pick it up wherever they may be (with internet access) and try it out. There are also no annoying push notifications that typically lead mobile apps to the quarantine, or worse yet to being deleted.

  • Why should Marketers take note? Often consumers can get lost in the message a brand is trying to get across. Keep your message simple, direct and fun. And when it comes to mobile marketing via apps, brands should make sure they are not annoying their customers to return to the app at a high frequency as a common case nowadays with retail and mobile gaming apps.


3. Oh, The Places You Will Go! – Your experience with Pokemon GO changes as you change your physical location, making it always interesting to come back to and explore where you are with a Pokemon lens. If you’re near a body of water in real life, you expect to see water-related Pokemon, and if you’re near a park you expect to see grass and forest-rated Pokemon. The game even changes depending on the time of day, and the Pokemon you can catch and the screen display is different.

  • Why should Marketers take note? Understanding your consumer’s location, whether it’s NYC, San Diego or Seattle, along with the time of day or season provides a plethora of context into what that consumer may be most interested in. A retail brand will market hats and gloves in the middle of winter in NYC, and shorts and t-shirts in San Diego. Location and time should drive personalized messaging based on context and in turn, are proven to drive higher engagement and conversion rates.


4. Word of Mouth is King – Like most, I learned of Pokemon GO through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Add in the dozens and dozens of memes that have been produced and shared playing in Pokemon Go, like “How to Kidnap a 27-year-old” and you have a viral game on your hands in a matter of days. And with everyone taking note, the likes of Amazon, Whataburger, and even UCLA have pounced on the opportunity to incorporate Pokemon into their social media marketing campaigns. This has fueled Pokemon GO even more, expanding its reach even further and to new audiences.

  • Why should Marketers take note? Even if you don’t create a viral marketing campaign yourself, a marketer should always be in tune with what’s viral now and think about if he or she should incorporate it into their own marketing campaign. Playing off of something viral has to come off tasteful, funny, and original to your overall brand, and not just a re-hash of what consumers have already seen. Encourage your consumers to share the message, directly and indirectly, and always keep testing.
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