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On a Lark with Pokémon Go

I was very late to the Pokémon Go party. As a recovering perfectionist, I am well aware that games like this are only going to frustrate me. In fact, the year before our daughter was born, my husband came home to find me in tears staring sadly at our computer. When I responded to his query of what in the world had gone wrong with, “the crops on my farm died--I couldn’t keep up with Farmville,” he suggested that it was time that I give up the game. Maybe piling one more commitment, even a Facebook game, wasn’t the best idea.

  • Tansley Sterns Chief People and Strategy Officer at Canvas Credit Union

However, when one of my colleagues recently asked me how I liked Pokémon Go and my response was to share this story, he persisted, “you can’t exactly say you are an innovator and not at least try.” The shame worked and I melted into the peer pressure and downloaded the game.

Not surprisingly, the person most excited to have a new game in the house was my nearly six-year-old daughter MacKenzie. Unlike her aging mother, without any instructions, she was quick to find both Poke Stops and Pokémon. She was intrigued with finding new creatures and the game worked as all good games do, drawing her in as we earned points and mastered levels.

What we really enjoyed together was the fun of the geolocation 

During our vacation in Door County last week, MacKenzie was anxious and persistent about turning on Pokémon Go to find new Poke Stops and Pokémon. As we took our annual tour of the Sturgeon Bay toy store, we also spent twenty minutes exploring nooks and crannies of the downtown where we captured Pokémon and leveled up to level six.

The next day, as MacKenzie persistently asked me for the fifth time if we could get out the Pokémon Go game to see what we found on the beach, on a bike ride, and on the way to play miniature golf, I started thinking about the power of geolocation for credit unions, especially as they strategically aim to attract the next generation of members.

At Filene Research Institute over the last two years...

We've collaborated with Larky, a company that helps credit unions offer merchant-funded, hyper-local rewards leveraging gelocation via a credit union branded app. When we first started our pilot with Larky, I downloaded the Larky app. Similar to my experience with Pokémon Go, as I was going about my day, rewards would pop up including a reward for ice cream. MacKenzie got very excited to see what else might come up and of course to get close to the ice cream store where she knew there was the potential for free ice cream.

One of my biggest concerns for credit unions is that we are the best-kept secret in North America. Young consumers are anxious to do business with organizations that do right by the world. As our research indicates, Gen Y is also overconfident and under informed. They need credit unions. The potential with Larky is your credit union could become so interesting to the next generation through relevant and local offers, that both Gen Y and Gen Z would ask their parents to, “please open up that credit union app.” Your credit union’s brand could not only become more relevant, but also fun, playful and best of all, tied to the local community all while saving people money. That sounds like a recipe not only for engagement, but ultimately growth.

Pokémon Go might not be in my long term future, but trying it was important. Testing and trying can lead us to new ways of thinking and new ideas that can improve our member experience. Ready to give Larky a try? Learn more or drop me a line so we can talk geolocation over an ice cream. We might even catch a Pidgeotto.