Jul 11 - 6min read4 Marketing Lessons We Can All Learn From Pokémon GOBy Launchbase

If you’ve been keeping on top of the news this weekend then you won’t have missed the phenomenon currently dominating the digital world – Pokémon GO (if you have missed it then you can read our tech news round up here)


The augmented reality game, launched last Wednesday in Australia and the U.S, has already increased the value of Nintendo by $7.5 billion and the market capitalisation now stands at around $28 billion.


Just two days after the launch, the game was installed on 5.16% of Android devises, a huge amount, especially when compared to leading dating app Tinder, installed on 2%.


Perhaps even more impressive, Pokémon GO looks set to beat Twitter’s daily active users. Last Friday, Pokémon GO had 3% of daily active Android users, not far from Twitter’s 3.5%, and it’s only going to keep growing.


Retaining the basics of past Pokémon games, Pokémon GO allows users to battle at Gyms, catch Pokémon and evolve your creatures. But, unlike past Pokémon games, Pokémon GO occurs in the real world.


Well, sort of.


The game superimposes Pokémon over your actual location using your smartphone camera. By physically walking around your area, the avatar moves along the map on your phone using GPS. Places with the most Pokémon are usually populated areas such as tourist spots or shopping centres.


To save players from walking into oncoming traffic with their eyes glued to their phone (although this has still happened), the phone will vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby and, once you spot it via your camera, you throw a Poké Ball to try to capture it. Players can collect other items, evolve their Pokémon and visit ‘Gyms’, where they join teams and battle with other players.


So why has Pokémon GO had such incredible initial success? Or perhaps more importantly, what can start ups, marketers and app developers learn from this success?


Let’s delve a little deeper into what has made Pokémon GO so successful and what we, as marketers or app developers ourselves can learn from it’s launch.


Nostalgia Works


One thing is clear from the launch of Pokémon GO, nostalgia works.


Why create something brand new when you can simply relaunch something so many people crave?


Whilst appealing to the audience’s nostalgia may not be relevant for your specific business, there is still a lesson that can be learned from this.


Most notably, the concept of tuning into your customers’ emotions. One of the reasons why Pokémon GO has been so successful initially is because it ignites memories in millennials. Memories of collecting Pokémon cards at school, watching Ash and Pikachu in the anime series and memories of childhood adventure without the stresses of adulthood. Pokémon GO allows players to revisit old favourites with an extremely modern twist.


As humans, we are naturally nostalgic. Companies have caught onto this and integrated nostalgia into their marketing campaigns. Mars Inc. revived Crispy M&M’s with their ‘Crispy Is Back’ campaign, and Coca-Cola are the kings of nostalgic marketing with their current plastic bottles mirroring their old school glass ones.


Erik Devaney writes extensively on nostalgic marketing campaigns and how companies can leverage the past in order to encourage consumers to buy. Essentially, if your content can make people feel nostalgic, a whole host of other effects will follow, including enhanced mood, increased self-esteem, social connectedness and feelings of positivity. Get people feeling like this and your chances of sales will skyrocket.


Fear Of Missing Out


Being successful at Pokémon GO requires more than just wandering around town hoping to spot some Pokémon. There’s only so many Pokémon that can be found in a specific area, meaning the app actually encourages users to get out and get exploring.


The fear of missing out is a key feature when it comes to Pokémon GO’s supposed addictiveness. People don’t want to miss out on certain Pokémon just because they don’t live in the right place.


The game encourages people to explore further afield than their hometown, to keep exploring and constantly search for more.


Marketers are regularly creating this sense of urgency with their campaigns. Special events and spot sales which occur only in a few regions spark a fear in people, that what they currently have is not enough and they have to reach further afield to achieve more.


Igniting a fear of missing out has become a highly successful method of marketing. We assume people are enjoying life more than us. According to psychologists, irrational thoughts like these lead to irrational behaviours – such as impulse buying.


The lesson? Your marketing efforts should elicit feelings of exclusivity in your customers. Make your product feel exclusive and treat your current customers as though they’re part of a special club. Do this and you can be sure that others will go out of their way to join it.


Limited release


Less is more when it comes to marketing, and this is something which has worked brilliantly for Pokémon GO.


The game, currently only available in the U.S, Australia and New Zealand, has delayed it’s UK and international release date as the demand to play it is so high. The surge in people trying to play has actually broken the servers which power Pokémon GO, meaning the UK and international release has been ‘paused’, until the company is sure that it will work properly for everyone.


Whilst we wouldn’t recommend deliberately attempting to break servers with marketing campaigns, chances are, having to wait a little longer for a product is only going to increase the hype surrounding it.


Anticipation is key when it comes to launching your product. Leave something for your customers to get excited about. If it’s an app that you are launching, this means not showing your whole hand straight away. Keep something extra up your sleeve for Version 2.


When marketing your product, give potential customers sneak peaks such as screenshots on social media or details about what you will provide. Excite your users with just a snippet of what you can offer and you will certainly see an increase in downloads or purchases when it comes to launch date.


The New Gaming


What’s so great about Pokémon GO and it’s immense initial success is that it encourages an entirely different form of gaming. We generally think of ‘gamers’ as teenagers sat alone in dark rooms with their social skills depleting as rapidly as the zombies they’re shooting.


Pokémon GO inspires something completely new and, ironically, it could be a game that helps America’s obesity epidemic. People are flocking to Twitter to share stories of sore legs and feet from running to catch their Pokémon.


This is exercising whilst gaming, something virtually unheard of until now. After all the research, it turns out it’s not the fear of diabetes that gets people off the sofa, it’s the knowledge that there may be a Pokémon just a short jog away.


So now gamers are getting outside and exploring. Yes, they may be searching for animated monsters via their mobile phones, but anything that gets such as huge number of people outdoors can only be a good thing. Although clearly there is a dark side to this new found liberation, as one unlucky girl stumbled across a dead body, whilst robbers have used the app to lure victims into remote locations.


Regardless of these unfortunate experiences, Nintendo has done something few have done before. They have created a product completely original, opening a whole new world that combines the digital with reality.


As app developers we are constantly encouraging people to figure out what they can do differently, how they can make their product stand out in the ever expanding app store. Use your imagination, take risks and do something different.


Whether you enjoy the game or not, I think we can all agree that Pokémon GO’s launch has been spot-on and their overwhelming success provides lessons we can all learn from.


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