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Changing Marketing One Pokémon At A Time

Sara Hs

Written by Sara Moulton 13 June 2019

Pokémon go and marketing

First, Pokémon GO got players moving and exploring. Now, its parent company, The Pokémon Company, and Niantic, the developer, want to help its users sleep better. What’s this about?

Pokémon GO was undoubtedly a homerun for Niantic and The Pokémon Company. App revenue has surpassed US$2.5 billion since its release, with it grossing US$205 million in the first quarter of 2019. The app crossed the one billion download mark in September 2018. Pokémon GO is also played by one of the hardest demographics to market to: 18- to 24-year-olds. In fact, as many as 60% of Pokémon GO users are aged 18-34 according to one measure, which shows that Generation Z and Millennials are actively playing. All of this means that Niantic is valued at almost US$4 billion.

Why gamify sleep?

The sleep industry will be a US$76 billion market globally by the end of 2019. Figures show that as many as 35% of adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night in the United States. While Europeans seem to get closer to the recommended number of hours of sleep, most would agree that there’s always room for improvement 🙂.

A recent study completed by the University of Michigan and reported in Time found that the average sleep for 20 countries worldwide. For the most part, European women get eight hours or less with European men sleeping just slightly less than European women.

It might surprise you that Niantic is turning its attention to sleep. During a press conference held on 28 May 2019, the president and CEO of The Pokémon Company, Mr. Tsunekazu Ishihara, explained, “Exploring the real world was one of the themes of Pokémon Go, and through that game Pokémon trainers all around the world began to spend more time walking outdoors. After walking, we decided to focus on the act of sleeping. Everyone spends a large part of their lives sleeping, and turning that into entertainment is our next challenge at Pokémon.”

There is potential in the sleep tracker or sleep aide market. According to a study done in the United States in 2017, 45% of those interviewed reported being open to using a sleep tracker. Yet only 8% said that they use one regularly. Statista also reports that both young and old demographics are interested or open to using sleep trackers. 

Five lessons for marketers

1. Get technology to  work for your business

Look for new ways to innovate or market to your customers. With the advent of AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) becoming mainstream and trends showing the popularity of interactive ads through video or gamification, marketers should keep an eye on how consumer behavior is changing. Then respond to that. Companies that do this will impress and delight their customers.  

2. Use ‘pull’ marketing rather than ‘push’ marketing

Gamification can help to pull your ideal customers towards the business. Pull marketing is engaging with potential customers where they spend time and allowing them to decide whether they want to interact with your business, product, or brand.  An often cited example for Pokémon GO was a New York pizza shop that paid US$10 to get a Pokémon at their shop, which resulted in 75% more customers coming to the restaurant. This is a great example of being where your customers are and interacting with them in a positive way.

3. Reach tougher demographics with gamification

Generation Z— born approximately between 1995 and 2015— prefer visually stimulating content from sources like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. They also actively use ad blocker software. In fact, 69% of Generation Zers avoid ads. Marketers need to be innovative with how they reach out to 18- to 24-year olds, which is a notoriously tough but very valuable demographic. Visually stimulating content like videos or gamifying the experience can be a great solution.

4. Look for innovative ways to market

Phenomenons like Pokémon GO create opportunities for businesses to think differently. Businesses can use data to hypertarget their marketing or create interactive ads. Both videos and gamification can be used to create memorable interactions with potential customers.

5. Make data-driven decisions

Today there are almost 27 billion connected devices globally; this statistic is expected to triple in the next six years so that by 2025, there are 75 billion connected devices 😲. Knowing this, marketers can take advantage of this influx of data to make better decisions on ad spend and content decisions.  

Marketers can create memorable experiences for their customers through gamifying the experience, like the New York pizza place. Pokémon GO showed that people will explore when given the right motivation, and next year The Pokémon Company will tackle another part of consumers’ daily life: sleep. As we move towards a world where we see more of it through a screen, let’s make marketing interactions surprising and fun. That’s how marketers can catch ‘em all.

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