Pokemon GO: a mobile marketing game changer?

Mobile & Pokemon GO

As the power of mobile continues to expand, “the growth in the use of smartphone devices has had a transformative impact on the way people interact with brands.” This year, the marketing game was changed with Pokemon GO – a free app that uses your smartphone camera and GPS signal to locate Pokemon through an augmented reality platform.

Since its July debut, Pokemon GO has grown to be the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, with around 75 million and counting users. Research indicates Pokemon GO users spend more time on this app than other popular social media apps, including Facebook and Twitter.

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Leveraging the trend

For marketers, this heavily-used app is a “potential gold mine” as it provides the ability to drive users to specific, real-world places. This is key for many  businesses looking to draw foot traffic – and facilitate customer interaction both in stores and online with social media.


JCPenney is offering an additional 15 percent off to Pokemon GO users, and is promoting this through in-store signage and social media postings.


(JCPenney – Charleston Town Center Mall)

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(JCPenney Facebook)

According to a store manager in Florida, participation in the game is not only fun, but rewarding: “We’ve got increased traffic and we’ve definitely got increased sales, especially of the Pokemon merchandise but also with other things.”


Other companies like Boston-based Zipcar are helping their customers play the game with an innovative social media campaign offering free car rides to Pokemon GO fans if they tweet to @zipcar on Twitter, during a one-hour time slot.

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Click here for more examples of Pokemon GO marketing examples.

A cultural trend or a transformational wonder? 

Some suggest that this game is opening the doors for even more innovative marketing techniques in terms of advertising. As the cultural phenomenon continues to evolve, perhaps companies will be able to buy ads within the app or “create sponsored/branded Pokemon characters, or create other ways to cost-effectively engage with the audiences on the Pokemon Go platform.” With this expectation, it is likely that mobile games with location-based abilities will become a more popular channel for consumer engagement and communication.

Gotta catch ’em all?

While I am not a Pokemon GO player, it is evident that this technology is a game-changer and an indication that the line between the physical world and the digital world will become more and more blurred. So, even if the cultural phenomenon of mobile Pokemon is simply a trend, its technology will likely evolve and provide even more opportunities for brands and consumers to interact.


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