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Retail learnings from Pokémon Go


There are many retail lessons to be learned from Pokémon Go. None included in this column will be tactical executions that will allow you to create lures, leverage your proximity to the Pokémon Gym or even explain how you could incentivise the Pokémon crowd to shop in your store.

Here are some other, broader lessons that retailers can take away from the Pokémon Go craze.

Lesson #1: Your survival depends on your agility. Not a technology, not a fad, not a promotion. But your agility to adapt and respond and to capture the shifts that matter, and do so continuously. It does not matter if you missed Pokémon Go or whether you are late to Snapchat. No single ‘curve’ is the curve. But – if you miss them all consistently, it proves that your business model is not responsive to the market.

For a good example of someone who is always ready to ride a wave, go and have a look at what Mark Flethcer is doing at his Newsagency blog, trying to elevate the game (with some success) in a moribund channel. If you can adapt to a trend that lasts a day, then you are bound to succeed.

Lesson #2: There is no point in looking to a consultant to predict the trends for you. You can’t outsource the viability of your business model to someone else. Nobody predicted the success of Pokémon Go in this incarnation – probably not even its creators. You will find a lot of ‘gurus’ telling you after the fact that these are the reasons why it worked and became successful and how you should do something similar. The key phrase here is ‘after the fact’. There is no limit to the number of preconceived ideas and biases masquerading as insights that you can glean from a success. After the fact.

Lesson #3: The lesson I want to share can be illustrated with this picture (below), taken by myself on a Sunday morning (July 17) in Perth. What you see there is part of a small group of about 30-40 people chasing Pokémon in the park. They are all gripped by the small screen in front of them, but they are missing out on the stunning view around them. Is that your position too?

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.35.24 am

There was a discussion on a LinkedIn group explaining how Pokémon Go should have been the solution that shopping centres should have come up with. That is clearly ridiculous, because (a) no one has the scale that could create a global viral sensation; and (b) it is just one fad that will last for a few months only.

The more pertinent question here is: while you are obsessing about this one, silver bullet marketing tactic, are you missing the bigger picture?

Happy hunting.

Dr Dennis Price is co-founder of Ganador and can be contacted at

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