Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pokemon GO…can retailers learn anything from this latest fad?

Unless you have been living like Brian Cranston’s character at the end of Breaking Bad, in complete isolation in the back woods of New England, you have read about, hear about or even are playing Pokemon Go. A game that builds on the Pokemon franchise, leverages users mobile phones and gives them the opportunity to hunt around the real world looking for Pokemon characters. There have been stories of people literally running into each other while staring at their phone screens as they indexsearch for these characters, robbers setting up people searching for prizes and instead falling into traps. Gamers have even, allegedly, caused accidents as they try to capture rare characters…ugh. But aside from these stories, are there lessons we can take from this latest cult phenomena?  Yes, there are some lessons we can take from this latest fad:

  • Geolocation applications connect the physical to the digital. Foursquare and Gowalla came out a decade ago and motived users to “check” in at locations and earn prizes such as stickers, trophies and mayorships. I wrote about the opportunity back then to use this new scavenger hunting type application to drive your brand and value, click here. These tools have gone through a roller coaster when it comes to “success.” Gowalla went out of business, Foursquare tried to rebrand themselves under Swarm but social media giant Facebook came out with their own check in options – somewhat validating the space. Retailers have dabbled with using these tools to drive traffic, trying to tie promotions to check ins and extract data from user generated data. This did not live up to the hype. But other applications such as Yelp have added check in functionality themselves. Even couponing sites such as Groupon are leveraging geolocation to provide relevant coupons. So what does this mean? Retailers and brands should not look at these recent situations as an indication that geolocation applications do not have a place in driving foot traffic. The impact of mobile on the retail supply chain has been well documented, but being able to influence physical behavior via our mobile devices still holds out potential.
  • Gamification can allow you to engage with your customer. The notion of gamification has been a topic of great excitement recently as more companies are looking to gamify such functions as HR, look at how HCM systems offer point systems that reward employees for working out, eating fruit over Cheetos or taking a yoga class. Event applications such as Doubledutch allow for firms to drive behavior at events where users are rewarded for checking in to sessions, participating in scavenger hunts, posting pictures or using an events hashtag. Firms are scrambling to figure out how to infuse gamification into their service offerings, can we make stale activities more fun? Can we drive consumers to seek rewards like points or stickers to shift behavior? Clearly there are some use cases that are gaining traction. Retailers and brands need to consider how can they use these tools to influence their customers’ behaviors? Companies can look to gamification to integrate themselves into what most of us carry on a daily basis – our mobile phones.

Pokemon Go has demonstrated that the confluence of disruptors such as cloud based applications such as Google Maps, tied into a mobile device which leverages the GPS system and camera, have opened up a new world. A true mash up of the digital world and the physical world. Retailers, who have brick and mortar, need to watch this closely. Can they figure out a way to drive foot traffic to their stores? Can they use the challenge of a scavenger hunt to motivate customers to come to their stores to “find” items whether real or virtual? While there are mixed reactions to the Pokeman Go, retailers should see this as a reminder of what is possible when they tie in the digital and physical worlds.

I will be excited to see a retailer that taps into our phones to allow us to have a scavenger hunt for what shirt goes with a suit, where to find the right cuff links and pocket square and whether monk strap shoes or wing tips are the best. Hmmm maybe someone should develop such an app! Until then, go find a Pickachu!


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