Marketing successes often spark a series of copy cats—companies that decide the best approach to a quick marketing win is to just "do what they did" and reap the same benefits. Sadly, that almost never works. Mostly this is because what makes the marketing campaign successful is its uniqueness, and a copycat campaign lacks just that. So for all those companies thinking they should copy the wildly popular Pokémon Go, it’s time to put the brakes on that idea.
But there are some marketing strategies—or, more specifically, monetization strategies—that companies can learn and co-opt from Pokémon Go’s commercial and viral success. Catherine Tucker, Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management, touched on these in her TechCrunch article, "The Monetization Promise and Pitfalls of Pokémon Go." We've summarized them below.
Develop target partner personas
One might think nearly every business—especially small business—would appreciate the extra foot traffic from Pokémon Go players hunting rare characters. Some businesses with traditionally long lines and a tendency towards rapid ordering and service are not necessarily the right place for people to be playing games on their phones, however. Imagine being in a lunchtime line at a typical New York pizza place, only to be held up by Pokémon Go players glued to their phones—that’s not going to go over well with the other patrons, or with the counter staff (think Seinfeld’s famous Soup Nazi!).
On the other hand, Tucker points to franchise companies like Jamba Juice. "For starters, Pokémon Go and Jamba Juice have similarly youthful brand images ... At the very least, it's unlikely that Pokémon Go customers searching for Pokémon would inadvertently annoy Jamba Juice's existing customers." Lesson: think about how your customers, their demographics, and their behaviors map to those of your ideal partners' customers.
Don't over-value your data
Consumer or user data was once thought of as extremely valuable. What kind of powerful and successful business could Foursquare build based on all that data it was acquiring (where and how frequently its users dined at and visited various types of businesses)? Well, one rather disastrous pivot later and that question will never be answered. As Tucker points out in her article, Waze and Facebook both have volumes of location-based data. Pokémon Go also has location-based data. It’s all valuable, but not unique. If you think data is your monetization strategy, proceed with caution.