7 things Pokémon Go can teach credit unions

It has been a few weeks now since Pokémon Go has been made its public release in the United States. Even while it is still not available in all countries, it has been breaking records across the board. If you haven’t heard of this augmented reality game by now, let me share with you some the the accolades it has received in such a short time. It only took six days to become the most active mobile game in the US, blowing past Candy Crush Saga which peaked at 20 million users. The average daily usage on Android devices is now higher than Snapchat, Tinder, Instagram, and Facebook. Every day on iOS Pokémon Go is making an estimated $1.3 million dollars.


After the release of Pokémon Go, Nintendo saw a 25% rise in its stock price. People who have never heard of Pokémon understandably are confused at its popularity, while those like myself who were raised on it have been busy reveling in nostalgia to try and explain it. Sparing you my childhood dreams of being the very best Pokémon trainer in the world, let’s look at what your credit union can learn from this cultural phenomenon.

1. Bold take on marketing

Probably the most incredible part of this game is the unfathomable success achieved when there was no advertising for it. Not a single commercial run, not a banner on a website, nothing. It reached its peak number one status with nothing more than good ol’ word of mouth advertising, proving once again that is the most effective form. I believe I personally am responsible for nearly a dozen other people downloading the game and that is just the power of social influence any other advertisement cannot achieve.


2. Pairing a solid brand with a groundbreaking technology

This is not the first game the company behind Pokémon Go, Niantic, have made. Their first game, Ingress, uses much of the system Pokémon Go is currently running on. Both use your phones physical location to allow you to interact with parts of the digital world. In all fairness the games are quite similar, except for one thing; the brand behind it. Nintendo has a very recognizable image and solid track record of quality, but without adopting new technologies they would not have been able to do this on their own. When an established brand adopts new innovative technology, both can profit greatly.

3. Using data the right way

When you are trying to catch these Pokémon around town, in the office or at the park, there are quite a few things going on behind the scene determining what you will find. Niantic uses not only data from your physical location, but takes into account what temperature it is outside, the humidity level, time of day, precipitation, overall climate region, terrain and much more to determine which type of Pokémon you are going to see. They are able to use the data that they have available to them to create a more engaging experience for the user, something we can all learn from.


4. It has brought people together

Chances are you have seen more people walking around than usual lately. Of course they were all looking at their phones no more than usual, but if you have gone out in search of Pokémon chances are you have interacted with others on the same search. Flooding social media are pictures of people from all walks of life who probably would have never had reason to start a conversation together, enjoying each others company while sharing and experience. Unlike credit unions, this game is positioned solely in the digital space, but both have the opportunity to bring the community together in their own way.

5. There is no learning curve to play

I mentioned earlier how much data Niantic uses to determine how the game works, which all sounds very confusing, but playing the game, you would never know. There is no real tutorial or how-to play guide built into the game itself to, all because it doesn’t need one. It is extremely intuitive and simple to pick up. Just like any existing mobile platform should be, there is a lot you can do but you are able to figure it out all on your own.


6. Rewards an ongoing investment

The more Pokémon you catch, the higher you level is, when you are a higher level, you can catch more and stronger Pokémon, with stronger Pokémon you can take on harder gym battles, and you get excited at the prospect of doing all o it. No one is forced to stay out late trying to catch a Pikachu, they honestly want to. Finding a way to create a service that will reward a member for continued use not only can be very profitable like in Nintendo’s case, but also builds a brand advocate with little work.

7. Already have a plan to scale

While they knew this was going to be a success, I don’t think either Nintendo, nor Niantic knew just how much of one, which is evident from the servers crashing from the shear number of users trying to play. While they are upgrading and optimizing their ability to handle more users, they already have plans in place moving into the future. From talks of new features, to allowing businesses to apply to be Pokéstops or Gym locations, they never once stop thinking of the future and how to handle even more traffic. It is important to never get comfortable with the services that you offer. There is always more you can do, and more people you can serve.