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What can Pokémon Go teach us about marketing?


This augmented reality app has been installed on twice as many phones as Tinder, has double the engagement of Snapchat, and it is eclipsing Twitter in its percentage of daily active users. It’s caused the valuation of Nintendo to skyrocket by an estimated $7.5 billion and it’s only been around for a week. But what can Pokémon Go teach us about marketing?

Pokemon Go hero

Image: Nintendo

Anticipation and timing work hand-in-hand

The new reality-based mobile game involving the hunting down of animated, imaginary creatures has swept the nation off their feet, off the couch and out into the outside world. The mobile app was launched in the U.S. last week, attracting 65 million people in its opening week and only became available in the UK today – although many mischievous gamers found a way to access it ahead of the release.


Pokémon Go launched at the beginning of the summer holidays. School and universities have finished for the year and people are wanting to go out and spend their days in the fresh summer air, which is exactly what Pokémon Go encourages. If Pokémon Go was launched in winter (when it’s wet and cold and young adults just want to sit at home binge watching Game of Thrones) it would not be as successful.

Pokemon Go overtakes Snapchat graph

Engagement should go the extra mile (literally)

Today in the space of half an hour I walked past 10 adults playing Pokémon Go. All looked to be in their mid-twenties, besides one man who was about 40. Most of them traveled in pairs and I heard them discussing tactics as I managed to have a cheeky look over their shoulder to see their smartphone screens.


Unlike most other games, Pokémon Go forces its players to go outside for long walks instead of staying inside being consumed by the antisocial behavior of gaming. What’s more, Pokémon Go creates bonding moments between strangers. 

Facebook status

Local marketing pays off

Pokémon Go essentially involves players walking around real-life streets, neighborhoods and cities to hunt down digital cartoon characters on their smartphone screens. The main goal is to catch lots of Pokémon and to explore new and different locations in order to catch the best Pokémon.


Most of the game involves finding certain hot spots, such as ‘Poké-stops’, which give away free Pokémon items and Gyms, where trainers can battle each other. These spots can allow neighboring shops to drop an in-game ‘lure’ that attracts more Pokémon to an area for a limited time, therefore drawing in more gamers and therefore customers.

Good branding does the groundwork

Pokémon has been around for 20 years and the sustained enormity of the Pokémon franchise made it easy to gain the interests of fans. Pokémon is a huge brand. Simply, if it wasn’t so well known the game would not have been as successful as it is.

Loyalty & reward

People who watched Pokémon as kids are now in their twenties. Us twenty-somethings are consumed by nostalgia and regress back to our childhood game of catching and training the magical monsters we know and love. We grew up with Pokémon. We feel a certain loyalty toward the game and our creatures as we embark on their new and improved journey. There was no big advertising for Pokémon Go. The popularity of the game was spread through intrigue. When you know or see someone so buried in the game, you want to get involved. You want to try it out for yourself.


During gameplay players get bonuses and incentives for leveling up, taking on gyms, catching new Pokémon and just walking around town. The thrill of finding a rare Pokémon or winning an intense battle is enough to keep us users playing.

Ease of Use is fundamental

It is easy to pick up the basics of Pokémon Go. A product that is easy to use and takes little brain work is key to a successful product. All you do is walk around and if there is a vibration, a Pokémon is near so get ready to ‘catch em all!”

Player Feedback says it all

“It’s pretty excellent. It needs some more updates and improvement for its longevity. Trading would be a huge boost and the battles could be improved. I’m team yellow, which was silly. Red and blue appear more popular. Yellow is a bit of an outcast. I’m quite excited for the increase in the game. Even where I work in Guildford (the sticks) people were walking around with it yesterday and it wasn’t even out yet. It’s now out and it’s going to take off. Google ‘Central Park Pokemon Go’. It’s madness, seeing groups of people gathered at a monument all catching Pokemon. It is also very good for mental health. I’ve also found myself going on long walks at lunch to hatch my eggs.’’ – Alex Maclachlan, 23


"I’m on 101 Pokemon. It came out today, but I got it last week. You walk around looking for Pokemon and that’s the fun part. Then you raise your Pokemon to be stronger and fight other gyms. The catching of Pokemon is such a great idea but the battling needs to be improved. I’m Mystic, the blue one. People are also saying it’s been good for mental health because it encourages them to go for walks and get them outside.’’ – Robert Levy, 20


‘’Pokemon Go is really popular because of the nostalgia factor, how innovative it is (getting people to go outside gaming) and because it's pretty challenging too. There's loads of reasons why people are obsessed with Pokemon games in general but I think they're very different reasons that people are obsessed with Pokemon Go.’’ – Mike Simmons, 21

pokemon go usage comparison

So, how are companies using Pokémon GO to help their businesses?

Lure them in


Simply, a lure is a human lure that draws people who play Pokémon Go to certain locations. For example, if a café is next to a ‘Poke-stop’, that café is able to lure for 30minutes. The lure attracts a number of players wandering nearby because the lure causes more Pokémon to show up when there lure is placed. Turns out our office is a Poke-stop...




To get lures quickly, one must buy them, approximately costing $1 each. Restaurant and café owners can particularly benefit from lures, as players will want to hang around for a while and therefore probably buy a drink of snack while they are waiting.


The game is already helping local restaurants, coffee shops and small stores to attract new customers. L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City, New York claims its sales jumped 75% over the weekend by activating a ‘lure’, attracting virtual Pokémon characters to the store. As states a report in New York, the store's manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokémon characters placed in the location.


Stores can take advantage of the different teams pride and bonding by catering to specific team members by offering specials for different teams on different days. For example, you can offer $1 off drinks for Team Mystic members or have a Team Instinct night that encourages Instinct members to gather at your location to trade tips.

How have you piggybacked the marketing success of Pokémon GO? Let us know on Twitter @Group_Positive.

Lucy Lyth