Generating more than $39M in revenue since its launch on July 6, there's no question that PokemonGo has taken the world by storm. The average user is spending more than half an hour daily in the app, significantly surpassing all other social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, even Tinder! In all seriousness, did anyone see that coming? The question always lingers around what's next for the mobile space, because it's inevitable that the next storm is always brewing in a world where new technology is rampant. But a resurgence of Pokemon? The last time this was a thing was when I was in 5th grade and there was that one kid who always got in trouble for having his cards out during class. Bet he's laughing now.
While the whole concept of Pokemon is a bit outside my wheelhouse, and I will probably never understand the underlying details of the PokeWorld, there are a few reasons why I love the concept of PokemonGo.
1. You've gotta catch 'em all... LITERALLY.
PokemonGo is essentially a fitness app, helping to disguise fitness as a game. As an exercise enthusiast, I find it quite powerful that this gamification of exercise is having such a profound effect. While there are no hard figures yet associated with the average miles users are logging, some have posted examples of walking an additional 5-10 miles in a day just to catch these elusive creatures. Is gamification of this type going to take over the fitness world? Could this be the beginning of an answer to the profound childhood obesity issue the country faces? As long as you're not taping your phone to a ceiling fan to trick the app into thinking you're logging miles, the potential is there (yes people have tried this)!
2. It's a real-time marketing dream.
Any good marketer knows that real-time marketing is one of the most effective and impactful forms of marketing out there. Engaging with your customers who are out seeking Pokemon has massive potential to help them build a connection with your brand. Whether you're providing nourishment in the form of coffee and snacks to those burning up calories on their hunt for the next Pokemon, or selling exercise apparel, because you need good shoes to log those kind of miles, the ability to connect with Poke hunters is prime.
The potential lies in the fact that you must have a smartphone to play PokemonGo, as it uses your camera and GPS to create this magical landscape. As you're walking along, your phone will buzz, indicating a Pokefriend in your midst. As you walk closer, the phone projects the creature and you begin throwing "pokeballs" at it to capture. To make things interesting, there are also Pokestops & Gyms along the way to stock up on accessories and train your Pokesquadron. While these are only virtual locations, they are paired with physical locations, which could be anything from a tree to your local business. Enter cries of glee from marketers around the world as they dream of the increased foot traffic this could bring. While it is not yet possible to ensure your business becomes a Pokestop, it will be soon, but likely at a hefty cost.
3. Geotargeting at its finest
Is it only a matter of time before businesses start bidding on the ability to drop lures at certain times of day to entice players to visit their locations? For those who are unfamiliar, a lure can be purchased and placed at a Pokestop, causing increased Pokemon production for 30 minutes. At the appropriate time (such as happy hour at your favorite adult beverage establishment), it can be the deciding factor for potential patrons.
3. Exemplifies the Virtual Reality trend of 2016
While this particular game doesn't strike my fancy, it's only a matter of time before the world is awash with versions of PokemonGo that appeal to everyone. Some possibilities:
HarryPotterGo: catch all the wizards in a virtual Hogwarts landscape
DisneyGo: there has to be atleast as many Disney characters as Pokemon
BeerGo: Find all the hidden beers in your neighborhood
OreoGo: Find all the Oreo limited edition flavors, including the elusive Fruity Crisp
ChardonnayGo: Find the hidden Chardonnay in your neighbors rosebushes for extra points (if you haven't seen this spoof video, you should).
CatsGo: A solution for lonely cats everywhere!
For me, its a tie between ChardonnayGo & OreoGo. Bonus points to whoever combines the two.
As with any cultural phenomenon, there are many who see this app as a waste of time & a silly game that has the potential to put children in danger and cause an uptick in Pokecrimes. Note: do not assume other nighttime street dwellers are also on the hunt for Pokemon. They may just be homeless and challenging them to a dual can result in dire consequences. See exhibit A.
However, if played safely and outside of business hours (Pokemon cannot pay your rent after all), it's impressive to see where it has come in such a short time and implications for the future of fitness and marketing.
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