Has Pokemon Go Cracked the Code on Customer Engagement?

By Sean Head, Product Marketing Manager

The reach of Pokemon Go extends beyond being just a mobile game for kids and teens. Middle-aged adults play it, Millennials play it, and based on the numbers there is a good chance that you play it too. As the digital experience that went mainstream in a few short days, Pokemon Go is by far the most addictive game being played today and the one almost everyone is talking about.

Pokemon evolved from a handheld video game 20 years ago, to trading cards, merchandising and movie deals. There is no doubt that this established brand certainly knows their audience. However, an important point to note is that Pokemon Go has captured the hearts of new consumers and activated a level of enthusiasm well outside of the brand's historical target.

So what is so special about this game? Are you in, or are you out? How long will the obsession last? With over 75 million downloads and 10 million active monster hunters, no matter how long it lasts, Pokemon Go has rekindled the discussion over how both powerful and engaging tapping into the consumer's daily digital experience can be.

It's not about the game. The makers of Pokemon Go have created more than your typical tap and swipe leaderboard driven mobile game. They take fitness and social (two stalwarts of mobile engagement), add the refreshing new-ness of augmented reality, and serve it into our day to day to create a unique gamified user experience.

So, while many engagement strategies fail or spin out of control as teams try to reinvent the wheel, Pokemon Go has shown us that you do not need to catch lightning in a bottle or even be particularly fancy if you go where your customers are, and provide them with a refreshing take on the things they already like.

One aspect of the game requires players to walk several kilometers in order to hatch eggs that add new Pokemon to their collections. Walkers and non-walkers alike are consistently putting in those extra steps to see what will hatch next. Even with the widespread adoption of fitness trackers and apps, few in the fitness category have been able to do what Pokemon Go has done in a few short weeks, which is to motivate those who are not predisposed to walking several kilometers a week to actually do so.

A key driver of customer engagement is the user experience. Businesses used to talk about reaching the "savvy" mobile consumer niche but the modern consumer is not only innately savvy but also mobile dependent. Mediocre experiences easily bore or frustrate modern customers while poor or broken experiences result in customers abandoning brands for a competitor.

The makers of Pokemon Go can teach us a thing or two about customer engagement. By focusing on providing players with a customized real-time experience, they have validated the shift being taken toward providing well thought-out experiences to customers in order to boost engagement and brand loyalty by businesses everywhere.

Happy hunting and "Gotta Catch 'Em All."

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