With the July 6th release of Pokémon Go, the entire country is witnessing the power of brand pairing and incentives.

It is likely a surprise to you that this game is an example of brand pairing. While it is The Pokémon Company and Nintendo that published and distributed it, the development was done by another company, Niantic, who released a fundamentally similar game in 2013. You may have never even heard the name of the original game, Ingress.

Ingress had many of the features that Pokémon Go players are enjoying, players went to real life locations to complete in-game tasks. Ingress, however, wasn’t plastered over your social media and news feeds.

Brand Pairing

The first key component that Ingress lacked was brand pairing. By pairing their brand with the powerful name of Pokémon, the game gained an instant set of implied qualities. It gained brand recognition and assumed entertainment value, first and foremost.

Anyone that was even familiar with the Pokémon brand would take notice of the product, and brand devotees would take instant interest. If you already enjoyed the brand, you would automatically associate that feeling onto the paired item. Other benefits of the brand pairing include the peripheral attention that have already fallen onto Niantic’s other products, including Ingress.

A brand pairing relay of sorts is even taking place, as brick and mortar businesses are joining in to become sponsored stops in the Pokémon Go world.

 

The Right Incentive

The second key component that Ingress was missing was the right incentive. Players had standard game incentives such as achievements, scores and competition. Those incentives only motivate specific prospects: game players.

Pokémon Go’s incentives are broader reaching and motivate even those who are not traditionally inspired by game play. In this game, they are collecting something familiar. The incentive does not need to be explained or sold. Its value is instantly perceived by the consumer. They want Pokémon and that’s what they are receiving.

The right incentive for the right customer.

 

Applying These Lessons to Your Business

The same basic benefits that Niantic received through brand pairing and using the right incentive can be extended to the smallest of businesses. The most simple and effective method is through the use of gift card incentives.

When you use a gift card as an incentive you are brand pairing. In your customers’ perceptions, an association between your brand and that of the gift card you are using is built. As an incentive, a gift card has a broad appeal. It’s perceived value is open to the imagination of the customer.

When you choose the best gift card incentive for your customer demographic you will get the best results. As Ingress’ incentives appealed to a specific group, so do some gift cards. Specialty brands such as Foot Locker will appeal to that specialty audience. Brands with broader scopes, such as Amazon.com, will appeal to that broader scope of customer.