We’ve seen it in action. We’ve even heard some of the more outlandish stories, like the man who refused to go to the hospital after being stabbed so he could keep playing. In case you spent the last week in an underground bunker, we’re talking about Pokémon Go, a new mobile app developed by Niantic that’s taken over the lives of millions by taking them back to 1995. With Pokémon Go already officially the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, here’s what brands should take away from the newest wave of Pokémania.
Nostalgia Is So Right Now
One of the driving factors behind Pokémon Go is that it scratches a nostalgic itch. The original Pokémon had its heyday during the 90s, a decade that holds a special place in the hearts of the ever-coveted Millennial demo. It was a time of hope and optimism, back before endless reboots of superhero movies and crushing student loan debts. More and more, marketers are playing up this nostalgia factor to connect with millennial audiences.
And it’s working. Despite being universally panned by critics, Fuller House, Netflix’s rehash of the popular TGIF sitcom, premiered with an average of 14.4 million viewers. That equates to a bigger audience than The Walking Dead. From the success of nostalgia-loaded Buzzfeed Rewind articles to trending hashtags, like #inthe90sithought and #throwbackthursday, it’s clear that millennials and Grandpa Simpson have something in common. They love to reminisce about the good ol’ days.
Augmented Reality Is About Real Experiences
Pokémon Go reminded us of the possibilities of an augmented world. By injecting Pokémons (just kidding, we know the plural for Pokémon is Pokémon) onto smartphone screens, the app creates an immersive experience that is easy to navigate (you actually walk) and intuitive to play (tap and swipe). The key here is simplicity. Users aren’t interested in the “Augmented Reality Experience.” They simply want to find Pokémon, catch them and have fun. Who cares how it’s done, as long as it works seamlessly. As brands experiment with alternate versions of reality, there is a big UX lesson to be learned here. Whether building an app or a retail display, don’t let technology dictate the experience. Ask yourself, “What do I want users to do?” and “How will they want to interact?” Then, use tech to make it happen.
Brands Need To Be Present In Mobile
Just when we thought mobile addictions were at their peak, people are now walking down the streets with gazes firmly fixed upon their phones. What a time to be alive, right? The rise of Pokémon Go confirms mobile is a powerful marketing channel for brands. Some have even gone as far as placing Pokémon lures in retail locations to attract in-store traffic. With 87% of millennials always keeping their phones at their side, day or night, brands should look to micro-moments – instances when people use smartphones to act quickly on what they need or want, like capturing a Pokémon – as opportunities to engage with consumers on the go.
Don't Go All-In On The Hype
As Survey Monkey predicts Pokémon Go to surpass SnapChat in popularity and rumors of a McDonald’s partnership swirl in the ether, everybody seems to be scrambling to get in on the resurgent Pokémon craze. But don’t go buying a house based on its proximity to a Pokéstop just yet. The game has been out on the market for a little over a week, and like all things viral, it remains to be seen if Poké-fever can sustain Angry Bird-esque momentum, or goes the way of the Beanie Baby. Brands can, however, learn a lot from Pokémon Go’s immediate success. Or at the very least, look for Pikachus in the break room.