​Pokémon Go: A Game-Changer for Bricks-and-Mortar Retail?

Why Pokémon Go has the power to transform retail

There are many ways to boost business with Pokemon Go.

There are many ways to boost business with Pokemon Go.

It's midday in Sydney and you decide to head down to the Opera House for a lunchtime stroll, only to be greeted by a congregation of excited "trainers" in search of those seemingly rare Pokémons. Such is the global phenomenon that has swept through the country, with Telsyte estimating that some two million Australian smartphone users had already downloaded the mobile gaming app by the end of July.

Indeed, as the wildly successful Pokémon Go continues to drive floods of people onto the streets in a nationwide hunt for these virtual creatures, this undeniably presents vast untapped opportunities for businesses of all sizes. From your local neighbourhood café to large multinational corporations, marketers are increasingly cashing in on the latest mobile gaming frenzy to fuel profit margins.

Why Pokémon Go has the power to transform retail

While the division between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar has historically been a source of friction for retailers, Pokémon Go has brought with it the massive potential to revolutionise the industry. Never before has an app pushed users to get out and pound the pavement to visit real-world locations. Sure, some have tried, but none has ever been this successful.

Evidently, the rapid take-up of the mobile gaming app has broad implications for retail, looking at how it could be a means to increase foot traffic to storefronts. So as with anything new, there is no surprise that marketers are clamouring to figure out how they can best take advantage of this new phenomenon to drive sales.

Of course on the flipside, there are also many who remain doubtful and wonder if the game is just a temporary fad. Unfortunately, as vague as it sounds, the one foolproof answer to this is that only time will tell.

That said, marketers should consider this: Once you've gained a new customer, they may be yours for the long haul, regardless of whether they are still playing the game next year!

"Catching" new customers with Pokémon Go

To help you consider how your brand can best harness the popular gaming app, we've rounded up our selection of the best ideas for Pokémon Go marketing opportunities.

  • Promote your brick-and-mortar location
  • Create a connection to your products
  • Support your brand’s cause marketing efforts
  • Complement your social media outlets

Obviously, the first tactic that comes to mind is pushing foot traffic into physical stores. Businesses are doing this in a variety of ways, from simply using signage to inform passers-by about the Pokéstop inside to emailing subscribers to notify them of the Pokémon gym nearby. For instance, some local coffee shops have committed to dropping a 'lure' for every $5 spent.

If you don’t have anything nearby to promote, you’ll have to get creative. I’ve heard of businesses offering a percentage off your purchase if you’re on their favourite team. You could also consider giving freebies to players or hosting special Pokémon Go-related events.

Niantic is not currently accepting suggestions for new Pokéstops or gyms; however, its CEO John Hanke has alluded to potential future opportunities for businesses to purchase sponsored locations on a cost-per-visit basis.

Regardless of your offering, every business has the opportunity to tie their products to Pokémon Go. If executed properly, it can actually create genuine connections between your brand and your customers. In turn, this could easily lead to repeat sales and lifelong customers.

There are numerous ways in which businesses are reacting to the rising popularity of the app. For one, some retailers, which have seemingly no association to Pokémon Go, have put together a bunch of products that makes sense for players and turned them into a kit of sorts - think backpacks and light travel gear. In another example, certain step-counting device providers have also published results documenting the increased fitness associated with the usage of the app.

Why not encourage users to give back whilst checking a few Pokémon off their list? Take for instance some animal shelters that have asked for players to come in and take dogs for “Poké-walks.” What a great way to spin this fad into doing some good!

Since the release of Pokémon Go, Foursquare, which had largely declined over the last couple of years, has seen a sudden resurgence in check-ins. While playing, people are out and about with a “check-in” mentality. These check-ins increase visibility of businesses on social media when shared with friends, which may also generate some additional foot traffic.

I’ve seen many examples of brands attempting to leverage Pokémon Go to their advantage, but ultimately, it's vital for marketers to use tactics that complement your brand and make sense.

Even if Pokémon Go has peaked, those customers you gain can end up lasting longer than their player level. No matter what you do, always aim to get that email subscription or social media follow so you can create a connection that will truly last.

Shannon Ingrey is General Manager of Bronto Software

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Shannon Ingrey

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