The new marketing tool: Pokémon Go

We’re probably right in thinking that most people have heard of Pokémon Go – the game that’s got adults and young children alike wandering around all over the place in their zealous pursuit to ‘Catch ‘em all’.

It goes without saying that Pokémon Go has been a huge success, not least for the 90s kids. Those who have had the chance to relive their long lost Pokémon memories – remembering hours spent fervently trading cards in small huddles in the school playground.

Nintendo has added over $7billion to its value, and seen a 50% increase in share value since the game was rolled out around Europe, the USA and Australia. And of course it was only recently that Pokémon Go was launched in Japan, the birthplace of this billion-pound franchise, so it’s safe to say these figures are only set to rise even further.

But it hasn’t just been Nintendo which has flourished as a result of the success of Pokémon Go – this new phenomenon is also benefitting smaller businesses around the world too. Take the New York L’inizio Pizza Bar for example, which paid $10 to set a few Lure Modules in its restaurant over one weekend – that’s an in-app purchase that allows you to draw Pokémon to your location by the way, if you didn’t know!

This resulted in a rather astonishing 75% increase in sales over the course of the weekend, as people flocked to the pizzeria to catch Pokémon – not forgetting to enjoy a few beers and a bite to eat in the process of course. Many other small businesses are also using the Lure Modules to draw Pokémon players to their stores – and considering each one costs less than a pound, it’s proving to be a valuable marketing tool which can drive new business within a matter of minutes.

Some companies haven’t even had to spend a penny on Pokémon Go to reap the many financial benefits on offer. This is thanks to the highly sought after PokéStops and PokéGyms – two key predetermined locations in the game which users are continuously drawn to. PokéStops are a location where users can get the tools they need to capture Pokémon, and ultimately become (drumroll please) a Pokémon Master – while a PokéGym on the other hand, is a location where players can battle their Pokémon against other users.

A local Worcester Costa coffee shop unknowingly became a designated PokéGym recently and subsequently reported a huge influx of business, as players looking to fight and catch Pokémon flooded in. And many other businesses, which have discovered they are one of these two coveted Pokémon Go destinations, have capitalised on this as well. As a result, countless companies have been integrating their valuable PokéStop or PokéGym status into their digital marketing strategies – to promote their business across social media and to draw game players (and hence additional sales) to their premises in turn.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the game’s real-world impact has led to an inexplicably large revenue stream for the developers of Pokémon Go. Niantic has already confirmed that it will be partnering with businesses to introduce sponsored in-game locations, which will ultimately allow these companies to convert Pokémon Go engagement into additional footfall and sales. In late July, McDonald’s became the first official Pokémon Go partner, confirming that 3,000 of its Japanese outlets will become sponsored PokéGyms. Many other deals across the US and Europe are expected, and these are likely to be equally as lucrative as businesses capitalise on the ever-growing Pokémania.

Even if your company isn’t a PokéStop or a PokéGym, and you don’t fancy using any Lure Modules just yet, it’s safe to say there are plenty of other marketing ideas that are being used to drive footfall. Many businesses are offering charging stations and special discounts to players who are at a certain level on Pokémon Go, or holding exclusive Pokémon events. Costa is even looking at integrating a PokéStop selector with its online store locator. And of course this is all underpinned by a huge influx of social media activity, which has seen many companies using sought after Pokémon, which they have caught around their premises, as a means of not only enticing hopeful players to specific locations, but also increasing online awareness of their businesses.

Remember, even if a direct association with Pokémon isn’t in keeping with your brand image, you can still consider capitalising on the phenomenal engagement this game has created, for example by choosing to strategically market in well-known PokéStop and PokéGym locations. Ultimately, the emphasis is no longer on staying at the forefront of this latest trend, but rather on determining how it can be integrated within your marketing efforts – to allow you to effectively elevate your business and achieve new goals. And who knows, you might even be lucky enough to catch a Mewtwo along the way…

We’d love to hear from you if your business is using Pokémon Go as part of its marketing strategy. What are you doing and why? Make sure you get in touch with us on Twitter – and if you have any Pokémon Go tips, well, feel free to pass those on too!