What Pokemon Go Has Taught Us About Experiential Marketing

Universal Appeal

Pokemon Go’s creators launched the game in the hopes that diehard Pokemon fans would remember how much they loved the brand and begin to play the game. But, they soon found that it didn’t necessarily matter whether someone had a connection to the brand outside of the game—people would play as long as it was entertaining. Users with very little knowledge of Pokemon were becoming addicted to finding new characters and advancing through the different levels of the game.

Marketers can learn a very valuable lesson here. When it comes to experiential marketing, you can easily attract new people (and potential customers) to your brand if an activity is entertaining or intriguing enough to grab their attention.

Give People Something to Work Towards

The goal of Pokemon Go is to collect as many different Pokemon characters as possible by visiting different locations and keeping an eye on the game’s app. Some characters are fairly easy to find, while others, such as Ditto and Farfetch’d are more difficult to track down. Because some characters are so rare, it makes finding all 151 creatures to complete the game that much harder. Players quickly became obsessed with seeing what characters they would be able to capture, and started to log into the game every chance they got in order to search for new characters they could brag about to other players. In fact, it even broke into the “3-5 apps that people use the most daily”—a category that is usually reserved for popular social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Not only were people using the app on a daily basis, but they stay engaged with it much longer than the industry average for gaming apps. The three-day retention rate for a typical gaming app is around 15%, but Pokemon Go had an astonishing 60% retention rate after this three-day period.

What can this tell us about experiential marketing? It’s much easier to keep people engaged when they have some sort of reward or goal to work towards within the game. In this case, people continued to play the game because they wanted to catch new characters and advance to new levels. The more they play, the more they are rewarded for doing so with incenses, potions, and other tools that can help them succeed in the game. Keep this thought in mind as you plan your next experiential marketing event.

The Power of Appealing to Emotions

Marketers have always understand the importance of appealing to consumers’ emotions, but Pokemon Go demonstrated once again just how powerful it can be. The majority of users—especially the early adopters of the game—were Millennials. This generation grew up around Pokemon, specifically Pokemon cards, cartoons, and video games, so they were already familiar with the concept and different characters. Now that Millennials are at the age where they are settling into their careers, getting married, and having children, seeing these friendly faces made them feel nostalgic as it stirred up memories of their childhood. It’s possible that this emotional response could have been strong enough to convince them to try the game out, and after a few plays, they were hooked.

As you see, even something as silly as Pokemon can appeal to consumers’ emotions. Find a way to tap into your audience’s emotions as you plan your next event so they can feel a deeper connection to your brand.


Pokemon Go was designed for the young at heart, not just the young. Part of the reason why this game was so successful is because it managed to create a user-friendly experience that was designed for people of all ages and skill levels. Basically, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to figure out how to download and start playing Pokemon Go.

When the game first launched, 55% of its users were Millennials, but this number dropped to 45% by the end of July 2016. At this point, the other 55% of users were Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and believe it or not, members of the Silent generation.

On paper, augmented reality may seem like a fancy tech term that only appeals to the younger generations, but Pokemon Go made it accessible for everyone by creating a game that was easy to use. Therefore, if you want to involve more members of older generations at your next experiential marketing event, make it easy for them to understand how to join the fun.

How Can Brands Use Augmented Reality?

Now that you know how Pokemon Go used augmented reality to revive their brand and win over millions of consumers, you may be wondering how you can use this technology to benefit your brand. There are plenty of opportunities for brands to be creative with location-based augmented reality. For example, a handful of local bars could team up together to create an augmented reality beer crawl. Or, a car company could create an augmented reality scavenger hunt where players would have to travel around town in order to collect points from different locations on the map.

Creating your own augmented reality game or event is definitely a commitment, but it will pay off if it’s done correctly. Do you want to plan an experiential marketing event that creatively incorporates augmented reality? Our team of marketing experts can help you create and implement a winning strategy to help you generate buzz around your next event. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!