How Retailers can Benefit from the Pokémon Boom
The huge recent success of Pokémon Go has important lessons for bricks-and-mortar retailers. Not only could these types of location-based game help stem the decline in foot traffic in shopping malls by giving Pokémon hunters a compelling reason to enter stores, but they also familiarize consumers with augmented reality technology, which could one day become a significant part of the in-store shopping experience.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Pokémon Go craze, players download an app and then use their smartphone to see, battle, and catch the monsters in their world.
It is an augmented reality game that superimposes virtual images of the Pokémon creatures on the player’s real-world surroundings, such a street, a park or shopping center.
Pokéstops and Gyms are generally located at local landmarks (and businesses) where players can purchase or win virtual items they need to catch Pokémon.
There are several ways that retailers can take advantage of this global phenomenon.
Lure in New Business
In the game’s predecessor, Ingress, it was possible for local establishments to pay to be added as sponsored locations, attracting players to their location for the benefit of the game. While this is not yet possible for Pokémon Go, it is possible for businesses to pay for Lure Modules.
Lures are special items that can be added to Pokéstops. They work by attracting Pokémon to an area and making them easier to catch. Retailers that are located near Pokéstops can purchase lures and attach them to the nearest Pokéstops, so attracting Pokémon, and ultimately players, to your location. One lure module, which is valid for half an hour, costs only $1, a negligible investment to see a potential spike in foot traffic.
Retailers can also partner up with Pokémon Go’s game maker Niantic to get volume discounts on lure modules or other promotional activities based on events, time of day, the weather, or even relevant to the type of product the store is offering.
Charge up in here
Sooner or later, Pokémon Go players are going to need to charge up their batteries. Indeed, there was a spike in backup battery pack sales in the weeks following the game´s release. So that’s a perfect opportunity for retailers to encourage Pokémon Go players to stop in their store, charge up, and have a look around while they wait.
Discover where the local gyms, Pokéstops, or Pokémon meet-ups are happening in town — try searching Facebook for Pokémon and your town name — and you have a great opportunity to set up a pop-up stand to hand out samples, sell wares or drive promotions for your own store.
By offering a discount on featured products for members of a certain team or for other in-game achievements, retailers can entice players to come into their stores and make a purchase. Beacon technology can also be used to send special promotions to the mobile phones of targeted customers within walking distance.
Daily updates on Pokémon sightings and player discounts on your social media network would open a direct line of communication to current and prospective customers and increases the likelihood that they’ll return.
The key takeaway is is that Pokémon Go may be a short-lived fad but while it lasts it offers a unique opportunity for retailers to attract customers into their stores.