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Pokemon Go for Business: Everything You Need to Know

Unless you are a hermit living in the Himalayas, you have probably heard of Pokemon Go. For the less initiated ones, Pokemon GO is a free-to-play Augmented Reality exergame for smartphones based on the Pokemon universe from Japan. It is also a total marketing powerhouse.

Needless to say, it has become a global cultural phenomenon since its launch a few weeks ago. A guy in New Zealand actually decided to quit his job to play the game full time!

Developed by Niantic labs and published by The Pokemon Company, the game uses GPS location and the camera to spawn Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) around you, and the user has to throw Pokeballs to capture them. Additionally, the game has the concept of Gyms and Pokestops. They have strong marketing leverage which i will be talking about eventually. The game hasn’t been officially launched in India yet, but players have found clever hacks to get it working on their smart devices. After all, India is the land of JUGAAD.

pokemon go mobile

How Pokemon Go appears on the smartphone

So why has this app seen viral growth of such elephantine proportions?

  • Pokemon has been around for 21 years now, and today’s Millennials probably grew up watching the cartoon, trading Pokemon cards and playing the original game.
  • They associate good times from their childhood playing and watching Pokemon, and our minds are known to amplify positive memories.
  • The very concept of being a Pokemon trainer has been brought to life with Augmented Reality technology and Geo-location capability in the game.
  • Millions of users have been enamored with the technology which has largely driven initial trials of the game.
  • The game has huge social media sharing potential which has triggered massive interest among users. It has an inbuilt camera feature to take pics while playing.

 

For all the doubters out there, you don’t have to take my word for it. Take a look at these colossal numbers that justify its popularity.

pokemon go infograph

active users of pokemon go and twitter comparison

android installs pokemongo and tinder

time spent on social media sites

Now that you are convinced that Pokemon Go is well on its way to world domination, let us view things from a marketing perspective. Analysts strongly believe that the AR app’s success and popularity has provided a glimpse into the future. With time, improved hardware on smartphones will usher in a new era of mobile apps with Augmented Reality ecosystem and enhanced geolocation abilities. It will change how businesses interact with customers in a big way, and also shape the future of retail.

A bevy of businesses have reacted to the Pokemon Go rage in their own ingenious ways.

  1. Bloomberg reported an interesting piece about L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in New York. The proprietor spent US 10$ to buy “Lure Modules”, that attract Pokemon to the vicinity. He reported a 30% increase in sales during that weekend.
  2. Mcdonald’s Japan launched Pokemon themed Happy Meals which have been flying off shelves, leading to a 23% increase in their share prices.
  3. Ride-sharing company Fasten from Boston has been offering 5$ rides to Pokemon hunters in the city from 9 different locations around the city.
  4. The Rogue & Vagabond bar in New Zealand have been marketing themselves as a ‘Pokemon friendly establishment’, making use of Lures to get hordes of people to visit.
  5. In a bid to increase footfalls, Avidia Bank from Massachusetts have been encouraging visitors to take photos of Pokemon in the bank and share it on their Instagram accounts.
  6. New York based Strand Bookstore have been promoting their status as a Pokestop in a bid to get more visitors.
  7. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama have been offering a special group admission price of $13 to visitors with the Pokemon Go app.
  8. U.S telecom giant T-Mobile are offering free data to their users for 1 year for playing Pokemon Go.

See how businesses are cashing in on the Pokemon Go craze:

clothing store attracting pokemon go players

An Indie clothing store in the US attracting Pokemon Go players.

pub pokemon go

A pub advertising their Pokestop status with attractive discounts

entrepreneurs pokemon go

Witness the rise of “Poke-Entrepreneurs” 

church attracting pokemon go players

Even Churches can’t stay away from the Pokemon craze

The game is a true marketing revolution in disguise, and eyes are slowly opening up to this fact. Let us take a look at the game through a Marketing perspective, and how big companies will be looking to leverage the game’s massive appeal:

  • Data Mining:

The game initially raised a lot of security concerns because users logging in through their google accounts had to allow full access to the game. This has been corrected with subsequent updates, but the game still collects a lot of data. What kind you ask? Well, your Google name, your Gmail address, the physical location of your game while you are playing, your IP address and the most recent web page that you visited before going Pokemon hunting. Big Data is essential to bigger and better marketing campaigns, and Niantic knows that. I can imagine a lot of tech and retail giants lining up to actually get their hands on this data goldmine.

  • Sponsored in-game content:

Product Placement in video games has been done in the past with varied success. Expect this to happen for Pokemon Go in the future, as it will be hard for the developers to say no to big money offers from major brands. Sponsored in-game content in the form of upgrades and items could be a massive opportunity as the game is a ready made mass advertising platform. The digital sleuths at Google won’t take long to figure out a way to put AdWords in the game, which will be a Marketer’s dream. The only challenge is to not let the ads disrupt the gaming experience, and being subtle.

  • Sponsored Locations:

Niantic has confirmed that they will partner with businesses in the future to create sponsored gyms & Pokestops. Pokestops provide gamers to get free stuff that can be used in-game, and gyms are used to train your Pokemon and also battle with other players. The biggest news coming out regarding this is Mcdonald’s sponsorship deal. It will be initially implemented in Japan, which will convert all 3000 plus Mcdonald’s restaurants into sponsored gyms. Hungry pokemon hunters will have it all sorted, and that is a win-win situation. Riding on the Pokemon Go craze, the game has the power to drive large amounts of foot traffic to specific locations, and this is the very concept that major companies have started to understand. Expect more such strategic alliances to happen in the future.

If you happen to be a Small-Medium sized business owner, here is how you can leverage the Pokemon craze for attracting more business:

Direct Footfall increase:

If your business happens to be a Pokestop or a gym, or is situated close to one, then you can use the “Lure module”. They are available as an in-game purchase, which attracts Pokemon to your location for 30 mins. You can also buy as many as you want from the store. It only costs a dollar, which is around 67 INR. For that money, you can have an exponential increase in visitors coming to your establishment given the game’s popularity. Maybe you can interest them in your wares once they are done hunting.

pokemon go lure module

Lure Modules are available in-game

Brand Promotion:

This is a golden opportunity to be grabbed with both hands to advertise your SMB (Small – Medium Enterprise). Getting your brand associated with the game is a chance to get easy publicity.

  • Leverage Social Media. If your business enterprise happens to be a Pokestop or a Gym, advertise the fact on social media by putting up pictures and additional information.
  • Devise Schemes & Offers. Offer discounts to Pokemon Go players for every check-in to your business on social media.
  • Provide Value indirectly. If your business doesn’t happen to be in the vicinity of a Pokemon location, you can advertise the presence of phone charging facility(the app consumes a lot of battery!) and offer discounted products and services to players of the game.
  • Go all out with events. For the ones willing to get up and do more, organize a Pokewalk. Ask your staff to dress up in company branded clothing and offer freebies to participants, along with co-coordinating the whole event. It will guarantee loads of social media mentions, not counting your own PR team’s efforts.

 

Business Standard revealed an interesting story about California based fitness-startup GOQUii. The company is a marketplace for fitness coaches, and they have their own line of fitness tracker bands. They have been organizing fitness based events called Active Sundays for quite some time now. About 40 – 50 people generally turn up for such events. Looking at the popularity of Pokemon Go, a Pokewalk event was organized in Mumbai, Bengaluru & Delhi inviting individuals to play the game while working out.

The event was an unprecedented success, with 10 times the expected numbers turning up to the event to participate. It quickly became the largest gathering in the events 18-month timeline, with over 500 people attending. The brand generated favorable amounts of goodwill, both with the participants and their family members/parents. The use of Lure Modules went down well with budding Pokemon hunters, and some parents were more than happy to see their kids motivated to get out of bed and get exercise playing the game.

Summing it all up, these Infographs convey ways in which SMB manufacturers and retailers in India can cash in on the Pokemon craze.

how manufacturers can benefit from pokemon go

Bountiful opportunities for Manufacturers

pokemon go for retailers and physical outlets

Pokemon Go is a boon for Retailers, Food & Beverage players.

Real-Life Examples:

  1. An enterprising entrepreneur has already come up with a 3D printed iPhone 6 case built specifically to play Pokemon Go. The construction is such that it aids aiming to make sure you never miss a throw again.
  2. Retailers like GameStop and RadioShack are reporting a 45 & 50% increase respectively in sales of phone chargers and charging equipment. This is because of the game’s high battery consumption characteristics.
  3. The game has reversed GameStop’s poor sales performance over the last couple of quarters. The company’s 462 stores that incidentally happened to be in-game Gyms witnessed almost 100 percent increase in sales.

 

Apart from the business potential, it also offers a threefold advantage to players:

  1. Improves the physical and mental health of players because it encourages users to go out and walk.
  2. The game play is such that it promotes socialization with other players and form a community to interact in.
  3. Provides knowledge about the technological innovation that the game packs in its current form.

Some of us at the office decided to try our hand at the game ourselves

pokemon go at workplace

Digital critters at the workplace

 

We are convinced that the game has started a technological revolution that will have deep consequences on the business, retail and marketing ecosystem in the future. It is still too early in the game’s lifespan to make future projections, but it is certainly a sign of things to come. Small and Medium sized enterprises have been reaping its benefits worldwide, and it will be interesting to see how the bigger fish of the business world react to this mobile phenomenon.  


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Priyam Jha

Priyam Jha

A recent addition to the Zepo Marketing team, Priyam earnestly strives to entice readers with the power of good content. An Automobile enthusiast with a penchant for Speed, his idea of relaxation is a game of FIFA or a good book.