One of the UK’s largest holiday parks experienced a strange phenomenon in 2016. This holiday park was the kind of place where people go for a week to swim, cycle and live the simple life in chalets tucked away in forested areas. Various activities were available: badminton, trampolining, renting canoes and rowing boats…
The park noticed that the number of rowing boat rentals had shot up. Not doubled or trebled but increased tenfold. There were queues to rent the boats. What had caused this?
The answer took some figuring out. But eventually, the park realised people were renting the boats to go Pokémon hunting. The craze of 2016 was Pokémon Go. Mums and dads hoping to get away from it all for a few days were being pestered by their kids to rent boats so the kids could catch rare Pokémon that were located on or around the boating lakes.
This holiday park was not what you would describe as digitally savvy. It was the kind of place that, once you had booked your holiday, would constantly serve up adverts wherever you surfed next to entice you to do exactly what you had already done. But the park was commercially astute and, since this strange phenomenon took place it has been looking to replicate this experience with augmented reality apps and experiences of its own.
This story got me thinking about how the most successful businesses can identify trends quickly and take advantage.
The great thing about Amazon when I first used it (and if you really want to shock yourself, check your Amazon order history to see when you first used it and what you bought) was its free, next day delivery. I quickly became addicted to this at a time when every other online retailer either charged for delivery or your stuff took a week to arrive. Fast forward 19 years (scarily my first Amazon order was in 1999) and I (along with four million others) pay Amazon £79 per year for this service, enhanced by movies I don’t watch and music I don’t listen to. Fair play to Amazon – offer free delivery until people get used to it, then charge them because they will miss it.
The funny thing about the impact of Pokémon Go and Amazon next day delivery is both take advantage of technology to deliver a real-life benefit. People had been talking about augmented reality for years before Pokémon Go, but the first real manifestation of what it could achieve was with these cartoon characters. It also demonstrated that gaming need not be slouching in front of a screen; Pokémon Go’s legacy will be getting kids to want to go on a walk.
In a similar vein, Amazon’s guarantee of next day delivery perfectly overcame our fears of shopping online – namely waiting for ages for delivery. The company just used technology to be able to make that promise. It is almost always true that technology itself is not the answer, but what you can do with it. In marketing speak, sell the sizzle, not the sausage!