Video via The Official Pokémon YouTube Channel. All rights reserved.
The weather is starting to get away from the endless winter and is getting warmer, soon reminding me of the last summer when Pokémon GO first launched.
This trailer was almost a year long before its official launching, well-crafted and still worth taking a look. Smartly, not just simply emphasizing its technology revolution – Augmented Reality, it features the group of young adults who probably grew up playing Pokémon and now have disposable income and the ability to go wherever they want. This is the very beginning of Pokémon GO’s marketing strategy. After launching, it was more than just hundreds of thousands of people logging into servers and crushing down. People in the real world ran around streets and parks to catch Pokemon and even talked to strangers about the experience. It was nothing like the game world had ever seen, and might never be duplicated.
Then last December we had Super Mario Run, which Nintendo and people were expecting to be the next Pokémon GO. But now we’ve known, it wasn’t. And while nostalgia now has seemed to guarantee success when it comes to some retro products targeting in millennials, now we’ve also known that it wasn’t.
Why mention nostalgia here? Obviously, both Pokémon GO and Super Mario Run have existed for a long time. It is hard to deny that both of them are some good old memories for most of the 80s and 90s. When they come into sight of public once again, familiar figures like Pikachu and Mario bring back a long forgotten memory and hit that demographic of nostalgic millennials. Personally, I’m a big believer in nostalgic intellectual property. It could be one of the most valuable proposition in business and marketing to combine something memory-provoking with advanced technology to make it retro. This is exactly what Pokémon GO and Super Mario Run are doing, while these two saw different results. Initially, Super Mario Run was close to 5 million downloads on launch day (vs. 1.8 million for Pokémon GO, which was limited to four countries). However, Super Mario Run made an estimated $1/user on day one while Pokémon GO made roughly $1.66/user on day one.¹
That’s why I say nostalgia works but is no guarantee for success. Or say, It won’t be that successful when it is the only marketing strategy. Here comes aother less emotion-driven strategy – technology adoption. Pokémon GO was born as a mobile game, taking on a new look with AR technology. It encourages people to go outside more, and meet up with other people to play the game together. It is naturally mobile, social, and sharable, which are generally to millennials liking, and also the base of going viral. Unlike Pokémon GO, Super Mario Run just simply isn’t as revolutionary. Instead, it is a console game being transferred to mobile platform while way less inherently social. More importantly, Super Mario Run appears to struggle to keep users for longer than two or three hours with level passing, Pokémon GO, on the other hand, has successfully kept many users engaged for hundreds of hours, because the scenario is that “Wanna catch them all? Go outside and do it in the real world!”
Yes, nostalgia helps business market to and connect with millennials. However, how far it can go, or how sustainable it is, is more important than just an exciting launching. And nostalgia alone is no guarantee for that. As thinking about marketing products targeting in millennials in this 21st century, it is downright reasonable to be more emotion-driven, while like any other business, we need to think hard to make them more sustainable, by integrating with other strategies.