I just read that Pokémon Go developer Niantic is collaborating with Starbucks to make thousands of their locations Pokémon gyms nationwide. It begs the question, ‘Why?’
The game launched back in the summer and exploded in popularity, but according to this article, the game had already stumbled and lost a vast swath of its player base by October. More recently, the game has had a few updates in an attempt to rebuild excitement, and the developer has also paired up with Sprint stores in the hope that it will lure players there.
Maybe there’s a similarity between apps, drinks, and phones. A steady churn of new phones and drinks keep the Starbucks and Sprint brands relevant and on the minds of consumers. If you haven’t been there for a while, you might find a neat new device, or a novel drink flavor. The same could be said for the app marketplace, where relatively low barriers to entry – seriously, almost anything gets accepted to the Apple and Google Play stores – mean you can always scratch an itch to try something new.
However, there is more to it than that. What else is in it for these businesses to pair up with an app that appears to have already waned in popularity?
It must be the case that even with a smaller player base, the users who remain are a good match for Starbucks. This finding seems to agree! It looks like Pokémon Go players are disproportionately doing just fine this holiday season, with the ‘average’ player being a 25-year-old, white, college-educated woman making $90,000 a year. This matches up well with the lower threshold of Starbucks' key demographic of 25-40 year old repeat customers. These players just may have a little extra to spend on a seasonal drink – and the hope is that they’ll keep coming.
While to most of us, Pokémon Go isn’t that fresh anymore, if these stores can turn even a fraction of the player base into returning customers it will be great for business. We need to consider more than just our own level of engagement with a potential marketing strategy when making a campaign, and try to find the true lay of the land in our research phase rather than just follow our gut. What the data shows is that these users demand close attention, as they will likely have a higher customer lifetime value relative a random member of the public because of their implied discretionary income. When it comes to users, it would be nice to catch ‘em all, but we at minimum need to actively attract ones who support consistent future revenues.