Is Pokémon Go Effective Experiential Marketing?

Torre Gentile VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Torre Gentile
VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Pokémon Go is a fad. No, really, it is. Do you expect crowds of people to still be forming at parks to catch Pokémon months from now? How about chasing them around outside when it is 10 degrees outside in January? 

While the hype of Pokémon Go will no doubt fade, the application of augmented realty is a trend that will influence marketing strategy for years to come. The game’s design also highlights important key lessons that experiential marketers should always consider when developing their own brand experiences.

Nostalgia & Loyalty

One marketing tactic Niantic and Nintendo nailed with Pokémon Go was their connection to a well-known, powerhouse brand, the Pokémon Company. By pairing the augmented reality experience with Pokémon, the app tapped into a nostalgic millennial audience and quickly developed a loyal fan base eager to relive childhood reminiscences.

Accessibility & Low learning Curve

While Pokémon Go was an immediate success with millennials, the game’s accessibility and low learning curve has ultimately attracted users from as young as 13 years old up through over the age of 50. The game, free for download, is intuitive to use. Upon adding the app to their smart phones, users can immediately start playing and learn as they go.

Provide Value & Reward Ongoing Investment

Pokémon Go not only has 75 million downloads, but a third of those downloads are by daily active users – and it is the game’s incentives that keep them regularly engaged. As users catch Poké Balls, the game is equipped with level ups, potions, revives, incenses and “unlockables” that provide the game with value. The more users play, the more items they receive, thus the stronger they are in battle. Pokémon Go constantly rewards users’ ongoing investments.

As experiential marketers we should applaud Pokémon Go for its success. The most successful experiential marketing campaigns cultivate powerful, long-lasting relationships between a brand and consumer, and without a doubt, that is what Pokémon Go has done with its more than 25 million fans. But the mobile game should also serve as a reminder that we should not get so wrapped up in the phenomenon that is “Team Mystic” or “Team Valor” that we forget this, too, shall pass. (SurveyMonkey already reported that downloads soared incredibly after the game’s release, but peaked a week later, showing a decline in new users.)

It is safe to say that Pokémon Go has secured its place in our cultural lexicon. The phrase “Catch ‘em all,” will mean something to not only the millennial generation, but to all generations past, present and future. 


David Rothkopf