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4 Marketing Tips from 'Pokemon Go'

July 19, 2016 | Hannah Abrams


(Image via Forbes)

Maybe you’ve heard of ‘Pokemon Go,’ maybe you haven’t or maybe you’re just wondering why all these millennials suddenly are congregating on your lawn mumbling something about Pinsir. Whatever the case, “Pokemon Go” is sweeping the nation with its augmented reality- (AR-) and Google Maps-integrated mobile app. Using almost zero traditional marketing tactics, “Pokemon Go” has managed to find massive success within a few days.

Don’t believe me? According to SurveyMonkey, “Pokemon Go” is the biggest mobile game ever, surpassing Candy Crush and Draw Something (remember that one?). And, it is estimated that Pokemon Go already has garnered 21 million daily active users in the U.S.

So, what does that have to do with marketing? For starters, you need to add a Pikachu collection to your company’s product offerings ASAP. (I’m only partially kidding.)


(gif via

But, more importantly, there are four “Pokemon Go” marketing lessons you can integrate into your next campaign.

1. People like collectibles

Obviously, I don’t want a Haunter Pokemon because its cute (stick with me here). I want it because it’s more difficult to find, and when I capture it, I’ll feel like a true Pokemon master. Nintendo always has understood this concept—”Pokémon” that are considered rare are more valuable than rampant Rattata Pokemon. The same holds true for branded merchandise.

While everyone loves a free T-shirt, there’s something more valuable about making recipients work for it. For your next event, host a scavenger hunt or a game of capture the flag. If your clients feel that they’ve earned their prizes, they are more likely to show them off.

2. Nostalgia always wins

There’s a reason “Pokemon Go” had a guaranteed user base: People who played the game as children were likely to download the new game. Customers like connecting with parts of their pasts. Drawing on users’ nostalgia is a proven marketing tactic because of the proven psychological benefits—less stress, more optimism and a greater connection to others.

So how does this apply to your business? You don’t have to brand Pac-Man arcade games (although we wish you would), but there are still ways to capitalize on this trend. Think about your youth and what was popular then: Pogs, yo-yos, choker necklaces, slap bracelets, etc. Are these products something you can incorporate into your next promotional lineup?

3. Technology cannot be ignored

Whether you like it or not, technology is here to stay. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. While “Pokemon Go” might seem intricate with its AR integration, it’s really not. Maybe all this means for your brand is ramping up your Snapchat efforts or creating a really good hashtag. Or maybe, you can find a way to integrate AR into your business model. Do your catalogs use AR? Consider testing the technology on a few pages.

4. Community creates buzz

One of the best parts of “Pokemon Go” is the community it created. Suddenly, you can walk anywhere in your city and find other people playing the same game you are. It’s happened to me countless times now: I’m suddenly conversing with complete strangers about a Pikachu they just caught.

For your next event, it could be as simple as branding coffee mugs in three distinct colors. Your customers will connect with one another because they chose the same color, and your brand becomes a relationship-builder.

Now, excuse me, while I try to catch a Squirtle.

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