Pokémon Go

By: Pardis Nkoy

I’m not exactly the opposite of a hipster, but I’m not one to stay away from something because it’s popular. And when said popular thing connects me to my childhood, I can’t stay away. Enter Pokémon GO.

When the game first came out, I walked over 14 km (9 mi) in two days. If anyone had asked me to walk around that much for a non-Pokémon related reason, I would’ve laughed. But here I am… 65 km (40 mi) deep, way better at converting kilometers to miles, and still addicted.

Within a week of its launch Pokémon GO generated more downloads than any other app on the US Apple App Store and had more active users than Twitter or Tinder. On average, the game is bringing in $1.6M from Apple users and $700K from Android users A DAY. Most impressively, Pokémon GO has managed to build a live-action gaming community that does the opposite of encourage you to sit on the couch and isolate yourself.


Why did Pokémon GO get so popular? I think there are three big reasons:

1. It is the first game of it’s kind. The augmented reality (AR) technology gives gamers a new platform (the real world) to play on and is easy for non-gamers to get the hang of, unlike most popular first-person shooter video games.

2. It capitalizes on popularity from the 90’s when Pokémon became one of the best-selling media franchises ever. (From 1995 – 2015 the Pokémon franchise raked in over $57 billion in revenue from games, movies, TV shows, and trading cards.)

3. Timing. Its obvious that Pokémon was most popular with my generation, and I think they purposefully released the game now that we: A) Are adults, B) Can leave our apartments to catch pocket monsters whenever we please, and C) Have our own income to spend on in-app purchases. Well-played guys.



So what can we learn from this from a marketing/advertising perspective? I’m glad you asked. Here are the three things I’ve taken from it:

1. It pays off to invest in something no one else has done. Pokémon GO was built with some existing capabilities, but they did something different with the technology before seeing someone else successfully launch an AR game. It’s not just, “no risk, no reward.” It’s more like, “big risk, potentially enormous reward.”

2. If it worked before, it’s worth trying again. Whether it’s a commercial, a full campaign, or grassroots efforts – If it brought great results, give it some time and then try it again with an updated element or different angle. Reviving a successful campaign can build on existing awareness for your brand/product/etc. by evoking an emotional, nostalgic response from your audience.

3. Look forward. You probably always keep your target audience in mind, but instead of focusing on where they’re at now, think about where they will be as far as 10 – 15 years in the future. That might mean looking in places that aren’t covered by your standard market research. It will require thinking differently about how your audience’s future is being shaped, and what that means for the way they make decisions and interact with your organization.


Whether you are all about the fad or sick of hearing about it, the launch and obvious success of Pokémon GO carries some important lessons about risk, timing and nostalgia marketing. As for me… I’m just determined to catch them all.