5 Mobile App Lessons Restaurant Marketers Can Learn from the Success of Pokémon Go

I hate to lead with a cliché, but if you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go then you must be living under a rock! In the past week the Pokémon Go app has soared past Tindr and Twitter to become the #1 app on the market. If you didn’t already know, according to CNBC “Pokémon Go uses augmented reality technology to allow users to catch virtual Pokémon characters in the gamers’ real-life surroundings using their smartphone screens, as well as battle other Pokémon characters”. Take a look at the 5 real life mobile marketing lessons that we can learn from this virtual game:pokemon

  1. Give Guests Something to Share

Pokémon Go has limited functionality: you can catch Pokémon, gather items, and battle your Pokémon. In addition to this core functionality, a bonus feature is the ability to take pictures of your Pokémon in the augmented reality environment (example at right). You might have seen these pictures splashed across social media, as users are excitedly sharing their new virtual friends. Similarly, marketers should place features such as refer-a-friend within their apps to empower customers to become brand advocates.

  1. Make Your App Easy to Use

As mentioned above, the Pokémon Go app is limited to essentially three functions. By making the app easy to use, Pokémon GO has made it simple to start playing right away. Restaurant marketers should take a page from this book and limit functionality within their apps. Building online ordering, loyalty, gamification, reservations, and more all into one app can overwhelm guests. Streamlining the functionality of your app will allow you to focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience.

  1. Monetize Your App

The Pokémon Go app is free, yet according to TechCrunch the app is generating daily revenue in excess of $1.6M. Pokémon Go offers an in-app store where players can buy items that help them in the game. When developing a mobile strategy, restaurant marketers should focus on elevating the guest experience, as well as bringing value back to the brand. Incorporating loyalty into your mobile app is a great way to encourage incremental visits and spend from guests.

  1. Ask For User Information

When users first download the Pokémon Go app, they are prompted to either create an account or login with Google. This allows the app to collect an email address and other information from the user to facilitate future communication. Asking for guest information in mobile apps allows restaurant marketers to leverage multiple communication channels to increase the efficacy of guest messaging.

  1. Apps Can Change Guest Behavior

According to TechInsider, the Pokémon Go app has led to an increase in exercise for many users, who must walk around different areas in order to catch the virtual Pokémon. There is some evidence that the game is already benefiting businesses since Pokéstops (areas where users can collect virtual items for use in the game) are often near or inside shops and restaurants, which leads to players congregating in these areas. People are even starting to make their restaurant choices based on Pokémon Go. This is an important reminder that well-designed mobile apps have the capacity to change guest behavior.


Are you inspired by the success of Pokémon Go to renew, refresh, and reinvigorate your mobile presence? Discover the amazing results that restaurant chains have seen by adding loyalty to their mobile strategy.

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The Author
Joel is the product manager team lead on the marketing team at Paytronix. At Paytronix, Joel enjoys helping clients make the most of their mobile strategy. He is a proud graduate of the School of Management at Boston University, and loves to see the intersection of marketing and technology in action. Bonus Fact: Joel can whistle and hum at the same time!

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