The success of Pokemon Go may have helped open the door to mass adoption of augmented reality devices – at least among those who have downloaded the mobile game. But a new survey finds that despite the phenomenal global success of Pokémon Go, the majority of Americans do not know anything about the technology that is behind it.
According to the survey conducted by ReportLinker, 58% of Americans say they are unfamiliar with augmented reality (AR), a technology that superimposes computer images over real-world images in real time. That’s despite the fact investments in the technology are booming in industries ranging from entertainment and healthcare.
Is Pokémon really the sensation it’s cracked up to be or is it just a media phenomenon? Has the mobile game helped increase the awareness of augmented reality? And are Pokémon Go users more likely to be early adopters of augmented reality products?
Millennials Lead the Way in Augmented Reality
AR technology is widely forecast as the next big computing platform. According to some estimates, the augmented and virtual reality market could hit $150 billion by 2020. Millennials are seen as comprising a significant chunk of the audience for devices such as the Oculus Rift headset.
Not surprisingly, millennials lead the way when it comes to knowledge and usage of AR, the study found. A fifth of millennials are somewhat familiar with AR and just under one fifth (18%) are extremely likely to use the technology.
However, once the technology is explained to them, there is an impressive increase in the number of people who say they will use it. The ReportLinker study found just over half of Americans (51%) say they will likely use AR.
The number of people willing to use AR might be even higher if not for a general fear of the technology. More than three quarters (77%) of Americans believe the technology may cause people to confuse the real and virtual worlds and blend the two worlds.
As for the best way to use AR, almost a third of Americans (30%) see entertainment as its best application. Home design, education and healthcare are also seen as good applications for AR.
Familiarity Does Not Translate into Pokémon Go Play
Given the extensive media coverage of the game, a sizable number of Americans (slightly over two-thirds) are familiar with Pokémon Go. Not surprisingly, most millennials are familiar with the game (81%) compared with 44% of senior citizens aged 65 or older.
But awareness alone does not translate into playing Pokémon Go. As the ReportLinker survey found, less than one quarter (22%) of people familiar with Pokémon Go are actually playing the mobile game. And while some media coverage may make it seem as if all millennials are playing, it turns out that’s true for only a third of that demographic compared with 12% of the rest of the population.
People have a number of reasons for downloading the game. When asked why they decided to add the game to their smart phones, curiosity was the biggest reason people cited at 46%. Nostalgia for Pokémon, whose little monsters first burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s, was another popular reason for downloading the game for 40% of respondents. For another 11% the reasoning was simple for getting the game: They’re fans of video games.
Most Pokémon Go players were already medium or heavy players of mobile games before they downloaded the game. Almost a third (31%) were already playing two mobile games before the game appeared on the scene and just under one quarter (24%) were already playing more than three games.
Many people who do not download the game express fears it could become all-consuming at worst or a significant time waster at best. The amount of time Pokémon Go could eat up is a concern among 18% who have not downloaded the game.
The ReportLinker study indicates that their concern is well-founded. It found that more than half of players (56%) play Pokemon more than one hour a day.
A number of Americans have even more serious concerns about the game. Almost one-sixth (16%) expressed a fear that the game could become an addiction.
Advocates of the game have cited a number of benefits, not the least of which is that it encourages people to venture outside into the real world and exercise more. Three quarters of Americans agree that Pokémon Go helps put an end to the couch potato epidemic but this perception is not equally shared between players and non-players, the study found. While just under half of Pokémon Go players agree that the game provides these benefits, only 15% of non-players share the same perception about its advantages.
Using Pokémon Go to Market to the Elusive Millennial
Three quarters of Pokémon Go players feel that they are part of a community when they play the game, making it an interesting niche for marketers. What’s more, more than 80% of players say they may return to the stores and other places they first discovered while playing the game.
In particular, these findings could provide fuel to marketers and enable them to make use of the phenomenon to increase business and awareness among millennials, a traditionally difficult market to reach.
The ReportLinker survey also found that 71% of millennials and 84% of older millennials (aged 25 to 34) would return to stores, streets and places they discovering while playing the game, while only 45% from other age groups would do the same.
Playing Pokémon Go allows players to experiment with and appreciate AR, which contributes to the likelihood of the technology being adopted, the survey found: Most Americans (87%) who have played Pokémon Go are likely to use AR technology in the future thanks to their positive experiences with the game.
In addition, the survey found that playing Pokémon Go helps AR go mainstream by helping increase Americans’ awareness, adoption and openness toward the technology. For example, almost three quarters (73%) of Pokémon Go players would likely use AR glasses if given the opportunity.
While there is a long way to go before AR becomes well-known to the general population, the adoption of Pokémon Go by a significant number of millennials indicates that the technology may have strong potential that goes well beyond the mobile game market.