5 Ways Pokémon Go Wins with Loyalty

Aug 8, 2016

Pokémon Go became a social phenomenon overnight. Marketers took notes, while the Pokémon brand delivered on its promise of “got to catch them all”.

People took to the streets and embraced innovation, even while sometimes not looking where they were going. What contributed to this “overnight” success?


Without understanding the customers’ needs and wants, brands cannot build loyalty. Below are five key things that we believe all marketers could learn from Pokémon Go.
As a bonus, we’ve also pulled a few of our favorite examples of brands directly leveraging Pokémon Go and some of the best articles we’ve seen on the phenomena.

Five Key Takeaways from Pokémon Go

  • Nostalgic Millennials: Tap into the joys of childhood simplicity as millennials engage with the realities of early adulthood (20s-30s). Players of Pokémon Go have a history with playing the game, watching the TV series and trading the cards. Bring millennials back to their childhood by using a nostalgia-based engagement strategy.
  • Location-Based Technology: Pokémon Go is the latest great use of location-based technology that is raising user expectations. Your customers expect your app to not only know where they are, but to customize your content based on their location. Maybe you aren’t ready for augmented reality — but it’s time to build location awareness into your strategy.
  • Easy Point of Entry: Players receive rewards without much effort, which builds retention for long-term relationships. The Pokémon Go app makes it easy for consumers who never played a Pokémon game before to join the fun. Does your loyalty program reward people the first time they use it? Does it reward them every time they use it? Get creative and find ways to reward people early and often.
  • Rapid Response: There’s a lot of opportunity to leverage fast moving trends, if your team has a rapid response mechanism. We’ve seen brands find ways to make the most of Pokémon Go, and even if this isn’t right for yours, now is the right time to put procedures in place to take advantage of the next fast trend.
  • Brand Equity: Pokémon being an established brand for over twenty years played an important role in Pokémon Go’s “instant” success. Marketers are focusing on bridging the gap between offline behavior and online interactions. The Pokémon Go app was able to leverage true brand loyalty because of its name recognition and generations of Pokémon fans.

Companies are leveraging Pokémon Go

  • Yelp: Added a feature to let consumers find restaurants or stores that have nearby PokéStops.
  • JC Penney: Promoted its Pokémon merchandise for an entire week.
  • T-Mobile: Exempts the game from data charges for a year.
  • McDonalds: Have embedded their name and logo into the Android app.
  • Ries: Created a social media campaign resulting in 1,400 views within the first 24 hours of being on the top of Google’s first page.


Is loyalty right for your business? Think about what’s valuable to your customers and then develop initiatives around it. Responding to the environment shows more than just having an effective team. In fact, it shows that you’re aware of change. Your legacy depends on it.

Want to read more Kobie thoughts on this topic? Read this.

Ketzirah Lesser, Sr. Director of Engagement Strategy, contributed to this article.