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5 things Pokemon GO can teach us about business

Not so very long ago, Pokémon, the ‘pocket monsters’ craze beloved of pre-teens in game and cartoon TV form, seemed to have run its course, settled into its niche. But then came Pokemon GO.


The real-world, GPS-focused app encourages players to walk around in the real world, finding PokéBalls, PokéStops and gyms with the help of augmented reality, overlaying the cartoon monsters on to images of the real world, and only appearing in specific places.

It’s become an instant phenomenon, reaching out far beyond the faithful and attracting many who thought that Pokémon was a thing of the past. It’s estimated to have increased Nintendo’s value by up to $7.5 billion and it’s showing no signs of stopping.

Here are a few things that the overnight success of Pokémon GO can teach us:

1. Brand is king

Pokemon GO isn’t the first game to use AR (augmented reality), not by a long shot. But while games like the award-winning Ingress or the self-explanatory Zombie, Run! deliver respectable numbers, their success is dwarfed by the Pokemon GO behemoth. A strong product, delivered by a trusted brand, can leapfrog all kinds of objections.


2. Collaboration aids growth

Pokemon GO gets people out and about, exploring their neighbourhood, discovering new shops and new experiences. And that’s got to be good for local businesses. Enterprising shopkeepers are already offering incentives for players, like themed refreshments to entice thirsty gamers. There are plans for this arrangement to become more official and allow businesses to pay for bespoke PokeStops and gyms at their location.



3. Higher tech isn’t always the answer

From the not-much-missed Google Glass to Oculus Rift, there are all sorts of hi-tech augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) projects in development – but they’re expensive, complex and take a long time to reach the public. Pokemon GO has succeeded with a relatively simple use of the technology.

As with addictive time-passers like Candy Crush or Flappy Birds, it’s not always the fanciest concepts that prove to be winners. A good idea, that appeals to customers and is easy to understand and use, is often more effective than ‘groundbreaking’ tech.


4. A strong idea can appeal beyond its core audience

Pokemon is primarily aimed at pre-teens. But much of the audience for Pokemon GO is significantly older – people who remember the craze from the first time round – and some of them are in their thirties or even older now. They may not be as in thrall to it as they once were, but they’ll experiment, and expose themselves to the advertising for the sake of nostalgia.


5. Omni-channel offers omni-opportunities

Pokemon GO’s seamless blending of the online world with the real one shows demonstrates the strength of omni-channel marketing. If you can combine bricks-and-mortar presence with an enriched online experience, they can offer something that’s more than the sum of their parts. For instance, if you have an e-commerce model, it might be worth reaching out to high street brands to pool resources, or vice versa.



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