Nintendo were famous for sticking to their tried-and-tested business model… Nintendo games on Nintendo hardware. But as the entire world now has their collective noses stuck in a mobile phone (and Nintendo don’t make mobile phones) that business model had to change. Enter Pokémon Go. I’m not going to go into detail about what it is or how to play it, there’s plenty written on that already. Suffice to say, you walk about the real world, look through your phone, collect Pokémon, stock up at PokéStops and brush up you battle skills at PokéGyms.
The ‘craze’ has taken over every country it has been launched in. It’s not uncommon to see rag-tag groups of people with their phones out hanging around seemingly uninteresting locations. They’re probably at a PokéGym or waiting to see what turns up at a PokéStop because someone just placed a Lure.
It’s actually changing people’s physical behaviour. People are walking more, talking more and buying more real-world things like food and coffee. So unsurprisingly, there are some smart companies jumping on the Pokémon Go bandwaggon and seeing tangible boosts in their profits. How? Here’s a quick guide.
There seem to be four broad strategies.
Smart references: Using Pokémon Go themes or references to promote your own business. This is the easiest way to align your brand against Pokémon Go as it doesn’t really require any actual gameplay experience or technical integration. Essentially, come up with gags or super-relevant references that connect your brand with the Pokémon Go world. This can be anything from simply tweeting a picture of a rare Pokémon as it sits on top of one of your products, alerting fans that there’s a PokéStop on your premises or an engagement callout on your social channels “Which rare Pokémon have you caught today?”. Others are being more subtle, specifying that close proximity to PokéStops is a deal breaker in flat-share classified ads or renaming their highly trained Pokémon to their brand name then taking over PokéGyms so that their brand name gets seen by potential challengers. Some are positively pushing against the craze in the hope that it identifies their brand as traditional, wholesome and above all this silly nonsense. Notices to “get a life” and demark Pokémon Go free zones can be equally strong messages for the right brand.
Laying Lures: Lure Modules can be bought in-game for 79p and placed at any PokéStop to attract more Pokémon. Anyone can deploy them and they last for 30 seconds. Business lucky enough to be on or close to a PokéStop are experimenting with laying lures and watching their daily turnover go up by 10-20% with next to no planning. This is purely down to increase in ambient footfall. Other companies not near a PokéStop are still getting in on the game by dropping lures at popular PokéStops nearby and then taking to social media to flag that it was them behind it – “If you catch a cool Pokémon from our lures, pop in and show us!”… oh, and hopefully buy a donut too.
Rewarding and Supporting: This one works better for smaller, more nimble businesses as flexibility to give discounts or rewards is key. Looking for Pokémon is a real-world thing. Players need snacks, drink, shelter from rain, wifi and more importantly, the occasional battery recharge. Businesses are putting out promo boards alerting passing players that you can get money off if you can show you’ve caught a certain Pokémon – or show that you are with a certain Pokémon team. Other companies will reward you if you lay a lure at the local PokéStop. It costs you 79p for the lure, they give you £2 off a coffee. Great deal. But now the business benefits from 30 minutes of extra footfall from your lure without doing a thing. Smart.
Official Sponsored PokéStops: These haven’t actually been launched yet but they have been heavily hinted at by the developer. The idea being that a business can elect to have a Pokéstop appear on their exact business location. The first company muted to be in the pipeline is McDonalds. Imagine the power of knowing your bespoke Pokéstop will attract rare Pokémon and with it, throngs of eager hunters willing to hang about in your restaurant / coffee shop for an hour until they catch it, ideally buying your products as they wait.
And just when you think you’ve seen it all, startups are springing into life to service the growing interest from businesses. Lure Deals and Lure Squad both offer a service whereby they incentivise players to drop lures near companies that have signed up to their service. As mentioned previously, businesses experience a 10%-20% jump in sales during an active lure – even as high as 75%.
Just like the Pokémon themselves, the techniques and tactics businesses are employing are constantly evolving. In the right hands, Pokémon Go is a quirky but powerful media platform that has sprung up almost overnight. One thing’s for sure, the early birds are getting noticed and the world is receptive. So what are you waiting for. Download the app, get familiar and get planning your next wildcard promotion!