Twenty-one percent of Millennials who have downloaded or played Pokémon GO consider themselves obsessed, but some still worry about safety and privacy, according to our recent survey. This presents unique marketing opportunities and challenges to brands looking to take advantage of the craze.
Millennials grew up with Pokémon, trading the cards, buying the merchandise, watching the television show, so it’s no surprise that this tech-savvy generation is signing on in droves for the new Pokémon GO digitally augmented reality app.
A new study from ORC International’s CARAVAN® Omnibus Surveys finds that 94 percent of Millennials have heard of Pokémon GO and 50 percent have downloaded or played it. For comparison, 91 percent of Gen X and 89 percent of Baby Boomers are familiar with the app, and just 18 percent (Gen X) and 5 percent (Baby Boomers) have actively engaged with it.
A Return to Childhood Obsessions
Nostalgia explains part of the draw for Millennials. After all, many of these 20- to 30-somethings likely owned a Pikachu T-shirt or Squirtle plush toy as children during the franchise’s first wave of popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yet the technology’s newness and coolness also exerts an appeal; Pokémon GO for the first time integrates digital and live experience, placing Pokémon icons in real space.
The combination of familiarity and novelty has been irresistible to Millennials. About one-fifth of those who have downloaded or played (21 percent) say they are obsessed with Pokémon GO, about twice the rate for Gen X (10 percent) and even further ahead of Baby Boomers (none of whom reported obsession in our sample).
The Marketing Potential of Pokémon GO
As a result, companies that market to Millennials see huge potential in Pokémon GO. Some are using the game to drive traffic to stores and locations that younger customers otherwise wouldn’t visit; businesses are setting up “lures” within the game to draw players, and in the future, brands will have the opportunity to become location sponsors by paying a fee to turn their locations into stops. Others are capitalizing on the popularity by offering discounts and rewards for players or signing them up for newsletters when they wander in.
Gaming With Reservations
Still, despite Millennials’ enthusiasm for Pokémon GO, they worry about its downside. More than 60 percent are at least somewhat concerned about personal safety issues; engrossed gamers have been known to walk into posts, trip on sidewalks, and wander into dubious neighborhoods. Half cite privacy as an issue as well. Millennials understand that they give up personal information about where they go and what websites they browse when they use the app.
Companies that incorporate Pokémon GO into their marketing strategies should, therefore, take care not to distract Millennial customers in ways that threaten their safety, and they should be transparent about the information they collect. And remember, like Pokémon themselves, the digital strategies involved in this interactive experience are always evolving. Changing up your approach, and introducing new elements and tools, will help you win the battle.
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