Pokemon Go is a wildly popular AR (augmented reality) game from Nintendo that has become a social media and pop culture craze. Millions of people are playing Pokemon Go to “catch Pokemon” with their smartphones -- but this is no ordinary video game. Pokemon Go offers a unique new video game format that combines mobile technology with real-life locations. Players can find, “lure” and catch Pokemon at real-life locations, requiring them to explore their local neighborhoods, cities, parks and public spaces. Pokemon Go is creating surprising new types of connections and human interactions, and the full impact of this type of game on the way people live, communicate and shop could be quite profound.
The Pokemon Go game is a cultural phenomenon, but it also illustrates some intriguing new implications for sales and marketing strategy:
1. Triumph of SoLoMo.
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One of the big buzzwords of recent years in marketing has been SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) marketing -- but Pokemon Go really illustrates the full realization of the potential of this idea. Pokemon Go is combining social media with local marketing (small businesses are seeing big gains in sales due to extra foot traffic from the Pokemon game) and of course Mobile -- the Pokemon game is making it possible for people to interact in the real world and social media world simultaneously in new ways. What does this mean for your sales strategy? Look for ways to combine real-life interaction with social media marketing. If you own a brick-and-mortar retail store, look for ways to boost foot traffic and generate check-ins and get customers to interact with you in real life as well as online.
2. New infrastructure for marketing.
Pokemon Go is the first widely popular AR game of its kind -- but it could be the model for completely new ways of interacting with consumers and creating communities online and in real life. For example, perhaps brands could create their own AR games, partner with AR game developers or purchase sponsorships or offer in-app purchases within other companies' AR games. Just as companies can buy ads on Facebook, maybe soon it will be possible for companies to buy ads within Pokemon Go, or create sponsored/branded Pokemon characters, or create other ways to cost-effectively engage with the audiences on the Pokemon Go platform. There are wide new possibilities for how to communicate and engage with customers in this new AR space. Pokemon Go is exciting in part because it’s opening up new possibilities of consumer behavior -- and brands need to be ready to evolve along with the technology.
3. Changing boundaries of "online" and real life.
Pokemon Go is neither a “smartphone” game nor a “real life” game; it combines elements of both. And that’s exciting and intriguing, because the rise of Pokemon Go is part of the broader trend toward the new era of the Internet of Things (IoT). Cheap digital sensor technology (of the type that made Pokemon Go possible) is going to transform the way that people interact with their mobile devices and with real life objects and physical spaces, in ways that we might not imagine yet. Pokemon Go could be the first AR game of its kind, but its seemingly “overnight” success is also a sign that -- as IoT technology gets more sophisticated and widespread -- entirely new platforms for communication and consumer interaction might suddenly appear in surprising new ways. The applications for this sensor technology will be so broad and varied that there might be massively disruptive technologies or whole new platforms for communication that seemingly emerge overnight.
Even if you don't know what a "Pokemon" is, this is an exciting time for anyone in the marketing and sales field. Pokemon Go is a sign of the growing convergence between mobile technology and real life interaction, and there are surprising implications here for the way companies market and sell. The rise of IoT and augmented reality technology is going to make it possible for people to interact in new ways that blur the boundaries of “online” and real life, and this is going to require new levels of innovation and creativity from sales and marketing strategies.