6 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from the Pokémon Go Craze

Jul 29, 2016
By: Marissa Camilli

What marketing gurus can learn from this bona fide craze will be laid out in this article, hopefully answering any and all questions you may have regarding the efficacy of Nintendo’s Pokémon Go campaign.

1. Timing is everything. The old adage applies here in spades. The very strategic release date of Pokémon Go coincides with the start of summer, kids (of all ages) being out of school, and gaming enthusiasts everywhere heading out to the great outdoors. This is really no coincidence and was likely planned many months in advance by Nintendo marketing.

2. Identifying with the essence. In the case of Pokémon Go, millennials are the core audience and ones taking up the somewhat-based-in-reality treasure hunt. This is due to the fact that the Pokémon card game was released in 1996, when many of the current Pokémon Go enthusiasts were young children. By playing on the sense of nostalgia and identification these people have for and with the game, it is clear that that is yet again another marketing “level up” for Nintendo.

3. No need for huge ad campaigns. The ad campaign for Pokémon Go did not consist of millions of dollars in ads in the weeks leading up to its launch. The intense viral appeal of the gaming app rested almost solely in the aforementioned brand identity, nostalgia, and also the affinity for the characterizations these 20- and 30-somethings have for Pokémon.

4. Outdoor gamers? Say what? This aspect likely had a lot to do with motivating mobile app users to go for the new Pokémon game. By bucking the sedentary “sit indoors and fiddle with your device” trend, getting gamers out walking in real, actual, natural surroundings acted as a contraindicative inducement for many who are likely sick of sitting and gaming. Walk your game, that’s how Nintendo rolls.

5. Ongoing reward is its own payoff. By making the Pokémon Go app relatively easy to use, and the game easy for gamers to achieve rewards, Nintendo marketers created a phenomenon with almost universal appeal. The almost constant bonuses and incentives for “leveling up” or catching a new Pokémon creature are enough to keep players invested in the game. Truly, anyone can play it, or enjoy it. Kind of like walking or exercise itself. Don’t make it too complex or fancy or “hardcore,” and you as a marketer will score.

6. High brand value once again flexes its Popeye-like muscles. The huge popularity of the ’90s Pokémon card game virtually predicted that a future mobile device-based gaming craze would literally go viral. All Nintendo had to do was tee it up, pick the right club, and drive it straight down the fairway. Their marketing execs probably couldn’t have guessed that they would have a $7.5 billion hole-in-one on their hands!

Let Digital Turbine power you through the age of the mobile app–we’ll show you how to level-up in the world of digital technology.

Marissa Camilli
By Marissa Camilli
Read more by this author