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Pokémon GO: How can local businesses get in on the action?

Pokémon GO: How can local businesses get in on the action?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past couple of weeks, you can’t have failed to notice the latest smartphone craze that is Pokémon GO. It’s taken the UK and the rest of the world by storm, exceeding 15 million downloads already. According to reports, the game is easily rivalling some of the world’s most popular apps including Instagram, Twitter and Tinder. Furthermore, the phenomenal number of downloads is translating into a huge number of daily active users, which is giving these well-established apps a run for their money.

Pokémon GO users are spending an average of 33 minutes a day engaged with the app. That’s ample opportunity for marketers to capture players’ attention, and so it’s no wonder that brands and businesses are already considering ways in which they can get in on the action.

Some lucky businesses success stories have already been cited. McDonald’s Japan shares soared to finish 9.8% higher this week, for example, following reports of a future tie-up with the game, in which the fast food restaurants would become sponsored locations known as “Pokestops”. That’s all great, but how can smaller, more local businesses get involved? As Pokémon GO players traipse across their towns and cities in search of Pokémon, what can local shops, restaurants, cafes and other businesses do, to capitalise on the opportunity? It’s potentially a lot of footfall which would be a shame to miss!

Find out if your business is a PokéStop

Pokémon GO is a mobile-augmented reality game, in which players earn rewards for exploring their real-world environment. If you haven’t checked already, it’s possible that your business has already been mapped as a location where virtual creatures gather, called a PokeStop.

There is no official Pokémon GO map yet, but as well as downloading the app and exploring for yourself, you could also take a look at the online map of the game ‘Ingress’, also developed by Pokémon GO creator Niantic. Its game ‘portals’ map almost identically to Pokémon GO PokeStops. If your business is lucky enough to be there already, set-up some signage right away, and think about the special offers you could make available to Pokémon GO players, who are heading your way as we speak.

Throw down some ‘lures’

Pokémon GO has its own currency, which can be redeemed against in-app purchases. The most important item for businesses to be aware of is ‘Lures’ which can help to increase the rate of Pokémon generation in the area around a PokeStop. You receive 30 minutes of Pokémon gathering when you place a Lure, which may not sound like a lot, but it’s a tactic that’s working well for some businesses already. Here’s a comment from a recent Reddit thread on the subject: “I own a pizzeria that’s a Pokestop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.” What’s more, the associated spend for a business is minimal. A single lure costs 100 Pokecoins (or 680 for eight as a bundle deal). Currently you can buy 100 Pokécoins for $0.99, and volume discounts are available; so for $99.00, you can get 1,4500 Pokecoins, which will enable you to power your lure for 72.5 hours (using the eight-pack lure). In business terms, that’s a significant amount of trading hours that you can potentially be drawing in the crowds.

Are you near a ‘Gym’?

Gyms are very different to PokeStops. You can’t put down lures for them, but you won’t need to, as they will be attracting the masses regardless. If your business happens to be in close proximity to a Gym, get creative with what you could offer players. Publicise the fact you’re nearby via social media, taking in-game screengrabs and sharing them with the appropriate hashtags, such as #pokemongo and #pokemon. A simple, cost-free offer is use of a free charging station for players’ smartphones during lunchtime hours, for example. You could also think about rewarding customers who find rare Pokemon in your vicinity. No doubt we’ll see case studies of businesses getting highly innovative with their offers, over the course of the next few weeks

The future

It seems a no-brainer that the next step for Niantic will be the rollout of a self-serve ad platform, similar to Google AdWords, where businesses can sponsor locations, for example. It’s a space to keep a firm eye on, as one thing’s for sure… Pokémon GO has been a game changer, and augmented reality is only going to get bigger.

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