“Pokémon” are Go Go Go

game

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see the riverside lined with clusters of people fixated on their phones. What is going on? Have I missed something?  Everywhere I looked I saw large groups of 20 to 30 year olds laughing and smiling while gazing down on their screens. I was soon informed that the clusters of people were congregating intentionally at something called a “Pokéstop”. All whom were playing the latest craze Pokémon Go.

If you haven’t heard yet, Niantic has released a new game which has people on the move to seek and find little creatures in our city and across the world. The clever concept, which relies on GPS to guide gamers to different locations, has been a hit and no doubt a game changer. Its no secret that developers Niantic have tapped into something special and the results are impressive. In actual fact, its been so successful that Apple reported it the most downloaded game, during its first wk, in app store history.

Its all part of the plan, a STRATEGIC plan

When reflecting on Pokémon Go, which has now become a global phenomenon, its clear to see the creators have been strategic around how they have designed the game and what market they are targeting. This is all part of the grand planning process to assess the viability of the project. Considering the 5Cs of marketing; Customer, Company, Context, Collaborators and Competitors, its evident the marketing team has embarked on a strategic planning journey. Each of these C’s, which form part of the marketing framework, would have been researched to ensure numerous questions were asked before embarking on the project.

Some questions would have been:

  • Who are our customers?
  • What is our point of difference?
  • Who should we collaborate with to enhance the product and user experience?

A great example of this is Nintendo strategically collaborating with Niantic and Google to bring the vision of “Pokémon Go” to life.

Smarty Pants? Marketing Gurus? Or Both

Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP) is an important factor. How does a company approach a saturated gaming market with something that’s never been done before? Will people even like it? Field tests, held in early 2016, proved to be a great way to trial Pokémon Go in the market before being released. This was a great opportunity to gain feedback and also create a promotional avenue to spread the word of the game’s soon arrival. Marketing strategy tools such as Ansoff Product-Market Growth Matrix could have been useful in identifying the opportunity to provide a new product to a current market. This approach is seen as less risky compared to other quadrants of the matrix such as diversification of a product whereby you are providing a new product to a new market. For example, using a popular character such as Pokémon would have been a key highlight in the strategic plan. Basing the game on a much loved 90’s cartoon meant that a target audience already existed. According to data from StartApp, as described in an article by Vox culture, over 80% of users are aged between 18 to 34. Its likely this demographic grew up with Pokémon on their TV screens allowing them to relive their childhood days through the game.

age-chart

Although Pokémon Go is free to download, this age group would be well positioned to make in-app purchases once falling in love with the game. As the major feature of the game is to get moving outdoors, many spectators have suggested this is greatly contributing to healthier lifestyles. Advertising these types of lifestyle of benefits are certainly attractive to the target audience and has strengthened the positioning strategy. As described by Tara Haelle in Forbes magazine, some positives of the game include lots of walking, fresh air and sunlight, educational opportunities and provides mini mental breaks.

So where to from here?

This really leads to the pointy end of the strategic plan which considers product, price, place and promotion. In many ways, the marketing plan will continue to evolve and be revisited to ensure ongoing success. Luckily for Niantic, Pokémon Go has many people talking and sharing ideas via social media. The challenge will be to keep an eye on gamers preferences through these various channels to future proof growth development. Are in app-purchases priced right? Is there any frustration with the product that needs to be addressed? Are consumers crying out for additional features? I suppose…. only time will tell.

Are you inspired and want to know more? Check out the below vid for an introduction to the exciting world of Pokémon Go.

Author – Melanie Power                                         Student ID – 216163107

References

Alvin Chang. 2016. 40% of adults who have downloaded Pokémon Go are 25 or older. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.vox.com/culture/2016/7/14/12190170/pokemon-go-ios-android-adult-age. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

Carly-Ann Clements. 2016. Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Pokémon Go’. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/blog/heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pokemon-go-071116. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

Iacobucci, D 2014, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South Western, Cengage Learning, Mason USA.

Kyle Sledge. 2016. Pokemon GO Field Tests Begin in Japan. [ONLINE] Available at: http://gamerant.com/pokemon-go-japan-field-tests-291/. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

Nick Statt. 2016. Pokémon Go breaks App Store record for most first-week downloads in history. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/22/12258874/pokemon-go-apple-ios-app-store-record-most-downloads. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

Tara Haelle. 2016. Five Ways Pokémon GO Is Actually Good For You. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2016/07/11/five-ways-pokemon-go-is-actually-good-for-you/#3491e2ed37b5. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

YouTube/The Verge. 2016. Pokémon Go: everything you need to know in 9 minutes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://youtu.be/AVWPWYYIcpk?t=1s. [Accessed 23 July 2016].

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