You’ve seen them – men, women and children roaming the streets with their eyes glued to their phones, just trying to “catch ‘em all.” Pokémon Go, the augmented reality smartphone game that has taken the world by storm in just three short weeks, has proven to be more than just a game, but a successful marketing and sales strategy.
Worldwide, companies big and small have been using Pokémon Go as a way of bringing business through their doors; they’ve gone to where the people are and changed their plans in order to capitalize on a wave. The following are just three of the numerous examples that have been popping up.
- McDonald’s Japan is the first sponsored location of the game, with each of its 2,900 restaurants becoming either Gyms or Poké Stops, areas in which players can train their caught Pokémon characters and earn tools like Poké Balls, used to catch them.
- The Financial Post reported a small Halifax store called Rock Candy Boutique has seen a huge increase in both visitors and sales of Pokémon merchandise since advertising that a Pokémon character was available for capture in the store (the game uses GPS to place characters in specific locations such as parks, churches, or monuments, but they can also be found in random shops, streets, or at home, or be attracted to certain locations using an in-app item called a lure).
- Best Buy recently made the most of the lure feature, setting up lures in Poké Stops around Toronto and Vancouver and then providing players who showed up with free WiFi hotspots and portable phone chargers.
All three examples use different strategies, but seem to be looking for the same end goal: bring in potential customers. The thought is that once a Pokémon Go player enters a Japanese McDonald’s, the Rock Candy Boutique or a park set up with Best Buy’s lures, they see and experience the products those brands offer and may just make an immediate or future purchase.
Utilizing this game as a marketing and sales strategy may seem juvenile, but is actually extremely smart – so long as it’s done correctly and within the right time frame. The three examples above and the many others you may have already heard of are doing it right. They’ve noticed the immediate popularity of Pokémon Go and quickly thought of how they would use it to their advantage. They’ve also probably played the game themselves, or at least done enough research to know the many features and how they are used to attract the most players possible.
So what does this mean for you? It’s not too late to get in on the Pokémon Go craze, but if it’s something you think you can fit into your marketing strategy, research the best and most innovative ways your business can use the game to its advantage. Perhaps you could offer a discounted product or service to anyone who comes into your store with a certain number of caught Pokémon, or start a social media campaign where players can win a branded prize by posting pictures of the most interesting places they’ve played the game. The great thing about Pokémon Go is that it’s being played by such a wide range of people, so there’s probably a way for your business to use it.
So get out your smartphone, download the app, and spend your day finding Squirtles and Pikachus. If anyone asks, just say it’s market research.