26 Jul 2016
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Alumni Capture the Essence of Pokemon GO Craze

Re: Willy Shih

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The Pokemon GO craze swept across the HBS campus in the last few weeks and it’s also gotten the attention of HBS alumni around the world. Beyond sharing the fun of capturing the game’s many little monsters, alumni also are taking note of its rapid spread and success—and any business lessons that can be derived from the phenomenon.

To gather alumni thoughts and takeaways, we went on social media with a question: “How can other brands replicate the breakout success of Pokemon GO … or can they?” Here are a sampling of their responses:

Many marveled at the game’s breakout success. Jason E. Klein (MBA 1986) said, “Pokemon GO will be the dawn of a new generation of Augmented Reality startups” and classmate David Kenny predicted Pokemon GO is “just the beginning of mingling real and virtual worlds.” Meanwhile, Taru Kapoor (MBA 2015) added a dose of reality by tweeting, “remember overnight success takes yrs.”

Some alumni offered advice, like Jeremy Valeda (PLDA 15, 2013), who said, “I think Pokemon GO needs to leverage their geocaching service with local commerce to monetize the experience.” Cimarron Buser (MBA 1988) agreed, tweeting: “Pokemon GO needs to ‘up the ante’ in the game and use locations and retailers to provide ‘real world’ ($) rewards to players.”

Many alumni see possibilities and potential in other areas: “Augmented reality can definitely revolutionize e-commerce and mobile-friendly brand apps,” said Ameera Shah (OPM 42, 2012), while Humberto Moreira (MBA 2009) said the company should “partner with more brands [and] structure rewards for retention.”

Still other alumni, however, see risk: “Unless you go for original positioning that fits your brand (rather than replicating), you’ll fail,” said Alex Kruglov (MBA 2006).

Whether risk or reward, Tim Reed (MBA 1996) captured the meaning of Pokemon GO’s success in one word: “#innovation.”

Read the complete conversation via Storify. Also read Professor Willy Shih’s take on the trend and what it means for other businesses.

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