Pokémon GO, millennials and proximity marketing’s big breakthrough

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Don’t panic, that headline isn’t just an excuse to cram every marketing buzzword possible into one sentence. But unless you’ve been living under a Pokéstop, you’ll no doubt be aware that around 80% of the planet have recently decided to spend their spare time taking ten-mile hikes in search of imaginary monsters.

Pokémon Go is the world’s largest treasure hunt, and while it’s essentially pointless (If fun), it is doing something important. It’s making everyone who plays it realise that location tracking and Augmented Reality can both be done really well.

It may seem odd for a beacon company to be talking about a game that runs on GPS tracking, but actually there’s a huge amount of crossover here (although of course beacons do location better than GPS, not least because they won’t drain your battery in five minutes flat).

A new audience for contextual experiences

One of the most interesting aspects of Pokémon Go! is the audience it has attracted. In the recent past, businesses have become a little obsessed with the millennial market, and there’s good reason. Millennials are the forerunners of customer behaviours that are extremely valuable, but largely absent from older demographics.

This doesn’t mean that millennials are ‘just kids’ however. According to Vox, around 40% of players are aged 25 or over, with just over a third falling into the 24-34 age group.

The incredible rise of Pokémon Go is an indicator of changing behaviour on the part of consumers, but more broadly, it also shows that we are changing the way we interact with technology.

Pokémon Go is now loaded onto almost 6% (Approx 6.46m) of US Android phones. That makes it bigger than Tinder (Which has about 2% of the same market), and almost as big as Twitter:

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Via Business Insider

The only other tech with such a phenomenal rise in recent memory is the mobile phone itself (I’ve spoken about how this is already affecting your business before).

Changing user behavior

The important thing to consider though is that this is all new territory for users. Our devices may be digital, but we still interact with them in an analogue way. We pick up a physical device and (in most cases) hold it to our ear, or jab at the screen.

Pokémon Go is changing this. Users are suddenly aware that experiences can be contextual. That they are improved by being integrated into the physical world.

In many ways this reminds me of online publishing. A couple of years ago, online magazines were published as PDFs, or on platforms like Issuu. To read them, you would download a doc, and turn the ‘pages’ manually.

Creating_Digital_User_Experience

Now look at more modern forms like Flipboard, Bulletin, or even the digital comic book industry. The analogue version is changing into a digital, contextual experience.

Users are now ready for communications that blend into their daily lives. Until recently, retailers using beacons have struggled as they try to get users to enable Bluetooth. Users are downloading less apps (but spending more time in the ones they do use).

Thanks to a little gamification and a whole lot of animated Pikachus, Pokémon Go has removed these friction points and allowed its audience to see the value of digital context.

What this means for marketing

So, what does this all mean for proximity? The important thing to remember here is that they enable hyper-local communication, are far more accurate and have a lower cost than GPS-driven apps, and we now have an audience that is not only willing, but actively embracing contextual communication.

The only thing for businesses to decide is whether they want to make the most of this opportunity, or be rushing to play catch-up with competitors in a year or two…

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Matt Owen