Everybody’s doin’ it.
It’s also causing marketers the throw their marketing strategy and position out the window just to jump on the bandwagon. Granted, now the legions of Pokémon players have grown from, let’s just say “computer-friendly” teen-aged boys into a mishmash of smartphone addicts of all shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t mean that they are all your company’s best possible prospects.
McDonald’s doesn’t agree, and they have seen some serious results. The multinational fast-food giant was one of the first businesses to partner with game developer Niantic in making 3,000 of its restaurants in Japan “Pokémon gyms”, places where players must pass through to capture Pokémon and become a game champion…and where they can also eat the Japanese equivalent of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. And guess what: it has improved their sales. The involvement with Pokémon Go is one part of a strategic “turnaround” plan that McDonald’s has implemented to combat falling sales, customer dissatisfaction and worsening brand perceptions of the fast food giant worldwide.
Pokémon Go and McDonald’s seem to go hand-in-hand, but what brands can you think of that probably shouldn’t touch the game with a 10-foot pole, unless they want to completely abandon their marketing position and brand perception? Mercedes? Well, SURPRISE! Because now the German automaker has invested in making their showrooms “PokéStops” to lure people playing the game (and trying to catch virtual monsters) into the dealerships. Dealers all across Germany have apparently been provided with a “manual” to detail how the game can be used to increase traffic in their showrooms. But what kind of traffic? Again, I’ll admit that this game has grown from the typical adolescent boy super-fan following, but that doesn’t mean that all the players are fit to buy a Mercedes-Benz, especially when they’re stumbling around trying to CATCH A VIRTUAL MONSTER ON THEIR SMARTPHONE.
Mercedes and lots of other prestigious companies have lost it. While Pokémon Go has been associated with vastly improving customer interaction and relationships and causing a shift in the way we advertise, does that mean that we should all just throw our marketing strategies out the window in favor of chasing the Pokémon Go fad?
Is attracting any customer that breathes and has a smartphone a good strategy? Brands are confused, and though this fad seems to be an all-consuming wave, the fact remains that it is a fad. Not everyone who plays today will continue to play tomorrow. We will all return to our pre-Pokémon Go lives, and marketers will have to find another way to lure in customers.