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Pokémon GO 'trains' consumers in AR

News, 16 August 2016

GLOBAL: Pokémon GO may yet turn out to be a short-lived craze, but its longer term impact will lie in advancing the cause of augmented reality and bring the technology within the remit of consumers who may never have heard of the term, industry figures have said.

"Mass adoption occurs when we stop talking about technology as technology and instead start participating – or in this case, playing Pokémon GO," Michael Koziol, President of digital agency Huge's Atlanta office, told Warc.

"Users have responded to the digital and physical experience, so we will likely see an increase of these experiences going forward," he said. (For more, read the new Warc Trend Snapshot: Pokemon GO and the next wave of augmented reality.)

"The popularity of the experience and the business demand – mostly from retailers and restaurants – will lead to interesting commercialisation models," he added.

McDonald's Japan last week claimed a 27% jump in sales for July as demand on the back of the brand's collaboration with Pokémon GO – not only in terms of the chain's outlets becoming "PokéStops" and "PokéGyms" to attract players, but also the offer of Pokémon toys as part of children's meals.

Huge itself acquired multiple "Lures", which attract Pokémon to a set location, in the app to see if this boosted foot traffic to the agency's recently opened café and increased purchases.

Sales rose by 27.4% the day after the program's launch, Koziol reported, an upward trend that extended for the remainder of the week-long initiative – translating to a total return on investment of 400%.

He expects that many more augmented and "mixed reality" games are likely to appear in the next few years.

Rachael Lonergan, Head of Strategy at Sydney-based agency Foundation, concurred, adding that the success of Pokémon GO constituted "proof" that AR works – when the variables are lined up correctly – with the additional benefit that it has "trained" consumers to use this technology.

But she also warned that "a lot of brands are going to get this wrong" and advised them to consider whether AR fits with organic customer behaviours, where it sits in overall communication strategy and what the likely incremental effects are on business results.

"Unless it offers exceptional utility or engagement, it won't happen," she said.

Data sourced from Warc