The Power of Insight; Pokémon GO

The Power of Insight; Pokémon GO

This week we were amused to see a Halloween costume of someone dressed as the Pokémon GO app.  It got us thinking about this whole phenomenon 3 months on from its launch and what the story behind it is.

Pokémon GO took a mere 5 days to reach 7.5 million users, a few weeks later hit 100 million downloads and now it’s around 500 million, with over 20 million people using the platform every day.  Beyond the gaming itself, sideline businesses are flourishing.  They are finding new customers and increasing their footfall via offering lures, renaming Pokémons, providing tours and you can even hire a Skype-based Pokémon GO tutor.  PokéScience is being treated like a real science, Pokéanatomy is emerging at the intersection of pop science and pop art and two universities are giving centre stage to the game via courses; one on Pop Culture Games in Idaho and the other with a Business Information Technology course at Salford.


What has caused this new product launch to be so huge?  There has been plenty written about the phenomenon and what has led to its success, but at Untapped, we have been thinking about this in the context of the power of consumer insight.

Strong Consumer Insight and Pokémon GO

At Untapped we ensure our insights have 3 parts to them; we call them 3W InsightsTM (Wants, Whys, Worries).  For a Pokémon GO gamer, an insight that might have led to the new Pokémon GO Plus wrist accessory being released at the moment could be based on a consumer getting an exciting, unexpected kick when they discover and catch a rare Pokemon but getting frustrated when they can’t look at their phone the whole time and miss one.

We evaluate how strong each insight is using our TRUETM tool, (Target consumer, Ready for action, Unobvious, Emotional response).  Let’s consider each of these elements and how Pokémon Go stacks up:

  1. It must strongly resonate with the target consumer. Pokémon Go appeals to multiple target consumer groups.  Pokémon is the 2nd biggest video game after Mario and endured for 20 years, creating a generation now in their 20s and 30s highly receptive to Pokémon GO.  Parents are drawn to its get-them-off-the-sofa element for their sedentary children and in turn it has become the latest cool thing amongst school kids.  Those looking for enticing ways to get some exercise can easily engage with its simple graphics and fun of collecting mentality.
  2. Good insights must have some sort of tension or call to action in them. The gaming, mobile and AR markets were ripe for innovation, full of tensions around the static nature of gaming, unexploited mobile technology behaviours and AR not being accessible to all.  Pokémon Go cleverly plays off these tensions and connects together consumer evolving behaviour with trends in technology.
  3. A strong insight must feel new / unobvious while still generating that reassuring head nod when a consumer hears it. While the game is simple, the geolocation technology enables a new behaviour in gaming with the delightful surprising element in spotting Poké
  4. Importantly, strong insights must illicit an emotional response from the consumer. Pokémon Go invokes high emotional responses, with the nostalgia element and exciting discovery of cute creatures lurking in recognisable / real places.


How Strong is the Product?

We don’t believe that the product is particularly amazing.  The game action is slow, there’s not much strategy with a lot of time spent waiting around for something to happen, you can’t trade or share Pokémons and the AR graphics are fairly crude.  However, it was good enough.  The first prototype has seen monumental success, its creators can learn a huge amount from the target user base and Pokémon GO is now ripe for the upgrades that will no doubt follow and lead to much stronger product iterations.  All very typical of disruptive innovation where smart product designers don’t wait until the prototype is perfect, but get out early and learn real-time, investing in a pipeline to bring improvements in product experience fast.  No matter how strong the initial product is, we believe that behind all successful products, there’s always strong insight.

If you want to find out how to unearth and write strong consumer insights to make great products and prototypes, we would love to hear from you!

Sally Kemkers
Sally Kemkers
[email protected]

Happiest when considering how to answer tough business questions, Sally relentlessly digs deep into consumer insight and connects this with trend and product insights to deliver a product cue or piece of communication.

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