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The rise of Pokémon Go and what it means for marketers

Posted: July 22nd 2016

Since Thursday 14th July, you’ll have noticed a curiously large amount of people walking about the streets (and anywhere else, for that matter – check this out) while using their mobile phones. Yes, we realise this is the general norm these days, but it’s become much more apparent and it’s all down to one revolutionary, worldwide phenomenon: Pokémon Go.

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If you’ve not already heard, Pokémon Go basically allows its users to create their own Pokémon-hunting avatars and go out into the real world in search of hundreds of different Pokémon, who are digitally placed all over the globe via Google Maps. They can also go to ‘Pokéstops’ – which are located at various landmarks – to collect items that will help them along on their journey to catchin’ ‘em all.

Once they’ve caught a certain amount of Pokémon and powered through a minimum of five levels, users can then start to battle their Pokémon with other users’ – but only at registered ‘Pokémon Gyms’. For example, people might have to go to the car park of a Tesco or to a village library in order to take part in the battles. Sounds crazy, right?

Crazy it might be, but Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm. In the first week of the app’s launch, it was installed on more than twice as many phones as Tinder and it has surpassed Candy Crush’s peak audience of 20 million users in the US. Basically, it is HUGE. Bigger than we could imagine, even. Its success is astonishing, but what does it actually mean for us marketers?

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Thinking outside the box

Pokémon Go has cleverly taken aspects of other products that are successful worldwide – for example, the challenge of video games and the location-based creativity of apps like Snapchat – and put it together with something truly innovative and technology-forward. Its ability to work uniquely in every area of the world and the way it’s put together with such intricacy is fascinating. It’s wowed people. It’s taken people by surprise. And people all over the world absolutely LOVE it.

Going beyond the screen

For years, we’ve been mesmerised by screens. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, televisions – you name it, we use it. Just about everything is at our fingertips when we’re on a smart device with access to the internet, and this is something that gives Pokémon Go its ultimate strength: it goes beyond the screen. It combines the virtual world with the real world and encourages users to get up of their sofas and explore. It’s actually improving people’s fitness! This fusion of the Pokémon world and the real world is something that’s never been done before – at least, not like this – and it’s got people completely obsessed.

What can we do to keep up?

Basically, Pokémon Go is challenging marketers all over the world step up their game. We, too, need to think of something that will make people stop and stare. A simple video or a Facebook competition will no longer suffice; we need to take involvement in our products to the next level. Make it interactive. Make it captivating. Make that product impossible to turn down. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the option of putting a Pokémon Lure on your business to draw in those pesky Pokémon hunters…

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