Innovation and Product Development

Pokémon Go and How Augmented and Virtual Reality Helps Brands

What is Pokémon Go?

pokemon goThe game, now available on iOS (Apple) and Android, gets you to go out and explore the real world with your mobile phone while you have the app turned on. It’s now bigger than Tinder and close to beating Twitter’s “daily active users,” since its launch on July 6th.
The game takes place in the real world, but is populated by monsters who look like rats, dinosaurs, snakes, birds, trees and more. The players are called “trainers” who travel around around the world to tame the creatures and then use them to fight against one another. You can capture special types of Pokémon when you’re in a park (more grass- or bug-type Pokémon) or by an ocean, lake or river (more water types) or out at night (nocturnal fairy and ghost types). Your goal is to collect as many of these virtual creatures as possible.
The games took the world by storm in the late 1990s — a big fad widely known as“Pokémania.”

“The app has been an undeniable phenomenon.” – Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune

Four big reasons that Pokémon Go is so popular

In fact, the game is SO popular that Pokémon Go lifted Nintendo’s stock price 9% the day the game debuted!

  1. It’s free and works on both Android and iPhone.
  2. It’s easy to download and to play.
  3. The game bridges online with offline. As Advertising Age’s David Berkowitz wrote today, “Somehow, Pokémon became one of the best exercise apps ever. Players are going for walks just to catch critters and to hatch virtual eggs, which requires walking up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to discover what’s inside.” The game uses your time and your location to imitate what it would be like if Pokémon were roaming the world around you. “To catch them all (and earn the medals attached to catching Pokémon), you’re going to have to explore far and wide, during the day and night.”
  4. Many original Pokémon fans are now adults, so there’s a nostalgia to playing with Pokemon again.

Facebook user Matt Schlicht posted a video at 10 p.m. showing hundreds of Pokemon players out at night on their phones, catching Pokemon:

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And this is a big part of the game’s appeal and charm. It marries the virtual world with the real world, applying the desirable and fun aspects of gaming to your everyday life. You can collect and move up in levels of skill.
Technically, because it marries the virtual and real world, it’s considered “augmented reality.” According to Tech Times, “augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world,” while “Virtual reality is all about the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with.”

Four big reasons brands are embracing augmented and virtual reality

While Pokemon Go gamers enjoy wandering their neighborhoods to level up and collect creatures, and millenials and kids across the world are becoming more accustomed viewing the real world through the “lens” of the mobile device or app, companies are realizing the opportunity to leverage technology to build and expand brand experiences. Here are four reasons I’ve found that brands are attracted to augmented and virtual reality as an option in-stores or via mobile apps:

  1. As commerce increases, taking a share from in-store retail transactions, brands are looking for activities and experiences that will draw users into the store for an enhanced experience.
  2. These types of experiences can provide a more immersive, detailed experience with the product, more so than images or video.
  3. Some brands, like Lowes, are finding ways that VR can actually increase their conversion rate and reduce time to purchase.
  4. Virtual and augmented reality experiences are inclined to attract millennial shoppers, who are technologically-savvy and more inclined to do most of their buying online

Lowes determined that one of the largest hurdles to purchasing home interior products was visualizing what remodeled or new appliances and fixtures would look like in their own home space. The answer? Virtual reality in the form of the Lowes “Holoroom.”

“With virtual reality, people can get a much more “holistic” and immersive view of how a slab of marble or different paint color can change an entire room — drastically increasing the likelihood that they will go with Lowe’s for their project.”
– Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs in the LA Times

Virtual reality is known for giving purchasers are more realistic experience with the product or brand. When shoppers don a VR headset in Toms shoes stores, they get to experience an immersive video of kids in Peru receiving donations of shoes from Toms.
Founder of Toms, Blake Mycoskie, said that virtual reality trumps photographs and traditional videos

“It just touches more of your senses. It gives you a more immersive experience — you really get the feel of motion. There is so much e-commerce today, you have to come up with a new reason to go to stores.”
– Toms founder, Blake Mycoskie

And because virtual reality has that extensive quality of taking the brand or product experience beyond what photo or video can do, and even, as in the case of Toms, extending the brand experience even further than the product can, I think virtual reality experiences are here to stay.

SLIDESHOW: Top Brands and Retailers Using Augmented and Virtual Reality


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About the Author

Erin E. Moloney is Director of Marketing at Perficient, Inc.

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