Three things Pokemon Go! can teach us about business

betterParents around the nation are experiencing a new phenomenon. Kids want to know if they can “go outside and play.” They have even asked if they can “walk the dog!” One colleague was treated to a call from his teenage son who wanted to walk to the office and go to lunch with him!

This is, of course, all related to Pokemon Go! – the augmented reality game that combines the thrill of a scavenger hunt with the magical fantasy of Pokemon. It’s luring young people (and a few of us older folks) outside more because walking places is the surest way of finding new Pokemon and hatching eggs.  It came out last week and it’s already the biggest US mobile game in history.

Are there business implications? Of course! Certain locations around most communities are designated Pokemon “stops” or “gyms,” and those can be a draw for those playing the game. That’s great if you are the owner of a nearby restaurant or ice cream stand, as lots of people walk by on a hot July day. It’s more troublesome for organizations devoted to quiet contemplation, such as a Holocaust Museum.

But whether or not you’re directly affected by Pokemon Go yet, this games explosion in pop culture should have you thinking about three things.

  • Change comes fast. Two weeks ago, most of us hadn’t any idea this was coming. Now it’s the pop culture event of the summer and our expectations for how games intersect with our lives have been irreversibly elevated. Expect to see knock-off games that help people explore amusement parks, shopping areas, or historic sites. And remember, the next big thing will be upon us just as fast. Is your business moving fast too?
  • The power of “the nudge.” For several years now, people have understood that tools like Fitbits and other activity trackers can help us meet exercise goals. But Pokemon Go takes that up a notch by showing people rustling grass up ahead, (could that be a pokemon?) and alerting them that a much desired Pokemon is nearby. These simple nudges keep people going for an extra 10 or 20 minutes – and then they see how that adds up over a week’s time. What are the ways that you can nudge your employees, your customers, or your partner agencies to meet your goals?
  • Be alert! As it loads, Pokemon Go reminds players to be alert to their surroundings. (In other words, don’t walk into traffic while approaching that Pidgy!) But it also encourages alertness in other ways. I never would have noticed the statue of children playing outside a building in an office park near the Y, if I’d not been seeking out the Pokestop with my kids. What insights and opportunities are you missing? All of us should be alert to opportunity however it presents itself.
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