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Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. The idea of a project took its way in 2015 when Niantic became an independent entity after a few years of being just another Google startup. It was understood that the result of joined forces with the Pokemon Company and Nintendo should be a project that would make a boom in the game industry and win hearts of all gamers around the world.
The game that is based on the well-known of every '90s kid Pokemon story is bound to succeed. But that is not the only reason for game's huge popularity. If analyzing Niantic's and Nintendo's marketing strategies, there are a number of marketing lessons to learn from. Let me try to prove why the Pokemon Go is not as а waste as it seems to be at first sight.
We live in the age of advanced technology now, and that is why every day there are less and less reasons to go outside. In the GameBeat interview, John Hanke, chief executive at Niantic said that “motivating people to take a walk… and explore a nook or cranny, in the part of the city they haven’t seen before… is the core of everything our company does”.
Spontaneous gamer gatherings all over the world only increase the already existing Pokemon GO boom. Such “Pokemon Walks” gather more than a thousand Pikachu fans at once! The events have a greater promotional value because they are initiated by the most dedicated players without any involvement of PR companies. Thousands of people walking around and looking at their phones... Isn't it an unforgettable sight? Isn't it tempting to join?
Remember the MSQRD app boom? The application was launched on Christmas Eve, and the first masks were the polar bear and monkey (New Year's symbols). Pokemon Go's timing was also perfect. The game was launched at the beginning of July, that was the high time to find a way to break the summer routine. Kids are out of school, and most adults have their days off work – now they have a great reason not to sit at home but have a walking stroll around town and catch a Pokemon or even two. The year of launching the game is also perfect. The '90s kids are in their twenties and thirties today – the people who have significant spending power now.
Nowadays social media seems to be a synonym to a “word-to-mouth” marketing. Today TV and web commercials don't come across consumers as their friends' and neighbors' opinions do. Nintendo and Niatic's teams have used this strategy for creating a social media hype. And it has worked!
The worst headlines about Pokemon GO aren't spoiling the reputation of the game, moreover, they are benefiting to the game popularity. “Man hits a tree and crashes while playing Pokemon GO» and other terrifying headlines don't influence consumers to stay away from the game. Even more, they consider the game really great because of the situations when people risk their lives just to play.
Have you thought about what makes consumers remember these little monsters for more than 20 years? It's hard to believe, but the quality content marketing strategy has been doing it for all this time! The content marketing tactics was used even long before the beginning of the digital marketing age. You could watch cartoons, play free games and explore different Pokemon directories. The franchise is constantly releasing quality content that their audience adores. Again, for more than 20 years, they have had something new for you.
Let me explain briefly. The target audience is not kids, as most people would think. The game targets Millenials – people who watched Pokemon cartoons 20 years ago. The nostalgia about carefree childhood and the opportunity to get away from work-related stress creates loyalty. Direct hit!
You invest time and money in building your own Pokemon team? Get ready to be generously rewarded. Fans get bonuses, incentives and gyms to run, when they level up. Such rewards keep users focused on playing the game every time they have some spare minutes.
You won't find any official tutorial because there was no matter for Nintendo and Niantic to release it – the game is simple even for beginners. Sure thing, you may find several how-tos on the web, but it's just about how to collect more Pokemons and achieve better results. You don't need to develop unique strategies and master skills to have fun when playing the game. Just walk around and check your phone on notifications.
I have already mentioned, that solid proof works on you much better than expensive ads. Using social media is free, and if you don't have a big advertising budget, a product (if top notch) will build a solid brand by itself. Voila, your fans will cause a viral effect and advertise it for you.
Pokemon Go wasn't the first augmented reality game created by Niantic. Also, there was Ingress – a successful in marketing terms game, but without global popularity. What is the difference between these two games? If Ingress was unknown to wider audience, almost everyone heard about Pokemon. A new game with already known cute characters was spread among the Millenials in several days after launching.
Pokemon Go is the sign that augmented reality has entered the world and has success. Some people use advanced tech because it makes their lives easier, others enhance their leisure experiences, or care about the prestige of the most expensive gadgets. Anyway, Pokemon GO is about all these features. There is logic here: Millenials are considered to be digital natives – those who were born and raised in the digital age. Post-Millenials will be AR and VR natives. So, this means that the virtual world will be one of the main fields for future marketers.
The latest news is that Pokemon GO is officially the biggest mobile game in US history – it has peaked more than 20 mln active users in the US alone. It has beaten not only Candy Crash Saga and Clash Royale but also Twitter, Google Maps, and Snapchat.
This marketing success makes us expect similar games in the future, that may break Pokemon GO's record. Marketers need to adapt their strategies to a new AR and VR trends because that's our future. Botoom line, all I can say is that Pokemon GO's marketing team has really done its homework.