UK: When Fiction Becomes Reality…Pokémon Go!

Last Updated: 27 July 2016
Article by Sonal Patel

Pokémon a fictional world filled with cute bouncy creatures. It's just for kids right? WRONG! If you're anything like me, you may have missed the Pokémon phenomenon when it first hit our screens in the mid-nineties. This time round, it is near impossible to miss following the launch of the app-based game, Pokémon Go, which has taken the world by storm. Following its release, Nintendo's market value has doubled and the app has been downloaded over 30 million times.

That is a desirable target audience! So If you're a retailer, now is the time to wake up and take note. Pokémon Go isn't just a game. It combines virtual reality with the real world by guiding its users via a customised version of Google Maps taking consumers to shops, restaurants and other sites around their locale in search of "catching" Pokémon and is of particular relevance to bricks and mortar retailers.

How can you benefit?

Some retailers might see this as unwanted custom and are putting up signs saying "Pokémon for paying customers only". However, others are embracing the opportunity to attract increased footfall into their premises. Even young entrepreneurs are setting up lemonade stands outside their homes to capitalise off Pokémon trainers. The hysteria could be short lived, so why not strike while the iron is hot.

1. Are there Pokémon nearby?

  • Do you house a Pokémon? - Pokémon have been placed in lots of different locations on the virtual map. So check the game to see if there are Pokémon in or nearby your premises.
  • Are you a Pokéstop or a Pokémon Gym? Pokéstops are places where users can restock by collecting Pokéballs and other items. Pokémon Gyms are where users can train the Pokémon they have collected. So check the game to see if you can use this feature to attract custom.

Once you have established whether you are fortunate enough to have a Pokémon, Pokéstop or a Pokémon Gym located at or nearby your premises, you may be attracting new customers without even knowing it. Twitter is awash with comments from people choosing their lunch spot based on whether there are Pokémon available in the area. However, if you want to be more pro-active, you can promote the fact and even consider linking it into promotions. Post tweets and messages with text naming the Pokémon – " Pokémon can be found at [....]", "Pokéstop at [....]"; post images of the Pokémon at your store; or just use good old fashion signs in your window.

2. Paid for advertising

  • Buy a "lure" – you can make various purchases within the game. One such purchase which could benefit retailers is a "lure" - it attracts Pokémon to a location for a period of 30 minutes. So you could use a lure around peak trading hours e.g. to attract a lunch crowd. You can publicise this in the same methods mentioned above e.g. " Pokémon lure released at 12.30pm, just in time for your lunch break!"
  • Sponsored locations – although not yet an available option, there is speculation that sponsored locations may be coming to the game. The developers of the game, Niantic are well versed in this paid for advertising strategy, having adopted it in a previous app known as Ingress. A number of sponsorship arrangements were entered into, to allow well known retailers to sponsor locations within the location based game. Also, with the game due to launch in Japan, there are rumours of a collaboration with McDonald's circulating.

Could advertising possibilities in Pokémon Go move even one step further by integrating more than mere sponsorship into the game. For example, could you virtually feed yourself or your Pokémon at a sponsored pizza stop, drink a coffee at your local coffee shop or get a ride in a taxi to your next location?

One thing that Pokémon Go has made clear is that augmented reality ("AR") is much closer to being integrated into our daily lives than ever before envisaged – there are AR apps for visualising furniture products within your home, virtually previewing your new car options, virtually trying on make-up or jewellery or browsing stock before visiting a store and now with Pokémon Go, AR is impacting on real life choices – where to eat, where to meet friends, even what time to meet or eat!

So if you're a retailer, bricks and mortar and/or e-commerce think about how AR could be an attractive proposition for your business.

The game will continue to develop and so will the world of AR. Will you ride the wave and reap the benefits or remain stranded on the shoreline?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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