I won’t even add an ‘in case you haven’t heard’ introduction. You have definitely heard someone raving about the new augmented reality application Pokémon GO; watched a kid walk straight into a building chasing an elusive find; or even found yourself chasing these mythical creatures across a lawn. The explosive growth of Pokémon GO has had a huge impact on the digital gaming industry with more active daily users than Netflix, Twitter and Spotify. According to data from Sensor Tower, in less than a month, the app has surpassed $160 millionInflatable Pokemon with Skyscraper backdrop Tokyo Japan in net revenue on the App Store and Google Play. Average daily use is nearly 30 minutes, surpassing average usage for Facebook.  It seems like the force of nostalgia created by an age-old gaming brand and the excitement of a relatively new technology, married with a platform that was already available in the palm of every hand, has produced an instant and powerful feeling of community.

History tells us that communities of this caliber pay huge dividends: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Starbucks, etc. The case for community-centric marketing is compelling. It often seems mysterious how some innovations produce a massively profitable community of happy consumers while others reduce loyalty and turn away potential buyers (think Myspace, BlackBerry). What new marketing opportunities will augmented reality create that will strengthen the emotional bonds community members feel? And can marketers pull in those viewing from the sidelines as it grows, while not marginalizing the initial community?

In addition, Pokémon GO has also captured the imaginations of thousands of business owners: from inviting customers in to ‘Catch Rare Pokémon’ to McDonald’s signing a major partnership deal in Japan to place active game locations (gyms) at their store locations. Yet the marketing impact of augmented reality and the opportunities it will generate are still in the infancy stage.

To find out more, The Martec Group did what it does best and conducted market research specific to the Pokémon GO craze. We understand that, when studying augmented reality and a phenomenon with this level of cultural interest and power, we had to use a powerful neuroscientific tool to get the job done right. So, we used our exclusive Emotion Intelligence methodology to ask over 100 people, “How do you feel about Pokémon GO as a marketing tool?” Emotion Intelligence uses language to uncover respondents’ subconscious motivators, which are hidden in the words they use to answer the question. The tool set has a lexicon of over 4,000 “emotion” words that it maps to 32 emotional channels using a proprietary mapping algorithm. This provides an assessment of the sentiment and passion that respondents have toward a particular topic.

What are the results? How do Pokémon GO users feel about the game as a marketing tool?

Pokemon GO Study Results

In this case participants have pleasant feelings about using Pokémon GO as a marketing tool. The top emotional channel is worth, which indicates an intensely pleasant but passive attitude—which matches well with a sense of community.

Top Emotion Mining Channels

“It can be a good thing. It brings people out and to destinations around the community. That in itself is a great marketing tool.”

“I work at a McDonald’s and I have seen quite a lot more business since the game came out. I think it’s a great tool.”

“I am in charge of the Pokémon GO marketing campaign for my company and I think it’s wonderful. Not only has it made our team more productive because we are bonding over something, but it has encouraged customers to give our establishments a chance. People are having so much fun when they visit us now – and, in the process, often discover something they love at our venues.”

“It has possibilities. After all, when was the last time you saw this type of excitement/involvement from so many so quickly? Consider the opportunities around PokéStops at sponsored locations … where as you make a purchase, you get a code to access free Poké ball, lures, etc.”

So, where should Niantic – creator of the Pokémon Go app, which is 30% owned by Nintendo – want to be to get marketers to actively look into their technology?

Here’s the answer:

Niantic Sweet Spot

Introducing active emotions to pair with the positive and passive emotions will help create a feeding frenzy environment where excited businesses seek to gain profitable partnerships of all sorts with Niantic. Eliciting active emotions is considered the key to heuristic buying, which helps consumers to make decisions without the delays and frustrations of serious conscious and logical decision making. Consumers themselves often feel they have made logical decisions in these instances, however, psychology tells us that a more likely case is the consumer rationalizing or building a case around the decision they made with their ‘heart’.

“I believe that businesses who don’t at least try to take advantage of this are possibly throwing a lot of very easy conversions out the window.”

“I love that something familiar – something from our past – creates such an exciting pop culture trend today.”

“Research shows gamification increases engagement and memory retention rates.”

How did Niantic’s Pokémon GO app rate as a marketing tool according to our analysis? Extremely well considering the newness of the app.

How Niantic Did

Nearly half of respondents think marketers are actively looking into augmented reality apps like Pokémon GO. Of the more than one-third of respondents ‘watching from the sidelines’, the main channels cited among this group are worth and amazement, both passionate channels, which indicate a willingness to learn and grow the community. One-fifth of the responses were led by feelings of insecurity and discomfort. Marketers will need to figure out ways to easily foster integration and adaptation, and also how to not marginalize those who feel insecure about augmented reality.

“The whole app is stupid and obviously wasn’t made for people in rural areas.”

“I’d be uncomfortable with marketing with it because children are using it, and it’s already highly distracting and potentially dangerous if being used without a parent.”

“The downfall is that it may not always be safe for kids at night, and it is costing parents and adults more doe for data usage on their phones.”

“Depending on the audience, could be great. People of all ages are talking about it, including my 71-year-old mother.”

“The challenge for the game is to KEEP gamers GOING… to keep the HEAT ON… Is it the AR [augmented reality] functionality or the Pokémon brand itself that lead to the awesome phenomenon of this app?”

We also heard from a minority of participants the feeling that poorly introduced marketing efforts would ‘ruin the game’ or ‘destroy the community.’ These respondents’ data was typically classified in the red zone above, indicating insecurity and discomfort. Passionate input from this group clearly communicated a sense of fear and anger that marketers could violate or taint the game experience, annoy them and steal their privacy. Who can blame them? I can think of plenty of times that advertising ruined an experience for me.

“As a marketing tool? No! Are you nuts? I enjoy the game as it is! Don’t mess up a fun and enjoyable game with marketing nonsense.”

“I’d rather pay a small fee to avoid ads all over the game.”

“Do not ruin what could still be a great and groundbreaking advance in augmented reality gaming by doing what business tyrants have done to ruin every other game. No DLC, no pay-to-win or pay-to-play content, no creative liberties to a franchise everyone wants and most importantly NO ADS.”


  • Marketers are already paying attention to mobile augmented reality
  • For the most part, people like what they see
  • However, 35% of respondents have a passive mindset
  • Niantic needs to improve Public Relations and targeted outreach campaigns

For Marketers:

  • Consumers who have looked into Pokémon Go like what they see
  • It is worth spending time and Pokécoins to learn how it works
  • There is an opportunity to establish thought leadership and up sell clients

For a full report on this study (beyond the high-level impressions found in this article), please stay tuned to our blog. If you are as curious as we are, or you would really like a chance to discuss methodology, augmented reality, market research or detailed findings, please shoot us a note.

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