The Pokemon Go phenomenon has been growing rapidly since the mobile augmented reality game launched in the U.S. one week ago (see “’Pokemon Go’ Blows Up at Launch”), with Survey Monkey Intelligence estimating that it’s already the biggest mobile game in U.S. history with around 21 million active daily users five days after launch. Retailers are taking notice of the opportunities presented by using a variety of guerilla marketing techniques, but paid sponsorships for retail locations are also on the way.
Some of the guerilla marketing techniques (here’s a good run-down by Inc.) rely just on time invested; some require small amounts of cash. Placing a lure, which increases the rate of Pokemon generation, in a store can attract foot traffic, and the cost in Pokecoins acquired through in-app purchases amounts to around $1.19 per hour.
If your business is a Pokestop or Gym, that fact can be promoted on social media. While there is no map of active locations for Pokemon Go, a three-year-old sister game, Ingress, does have a map of portal locations, which are the same. Both games were developed by Niantic, a company created inside Google and using Google mapping technology; Niantic was spun out of Google last year.
Social media can also be used to promote the Pokemon that are already in your location.
These modest ways of using Pokemon Go to attract foot traffic are going to expand to include more sophisticated marketing in the future. Niantic has been selling the opportunity to become a sponsored location for Ingress, and plans to expand the program to Pokemon Go, according to the New York Times.
Of course, getting players into a retail location isn’t the end of the process; the players need to buy something. Restaurants have reported good impact on sales from Pokemon Go players, but for geek culture retailers, the opportunities are probably going to revolve around Pokemon products, at least initially. In addition to a wide range of merch, Pokemon TCG products from Pokemon Company and Pokemon manga from Viz present substantial opportunities.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see all types of Pokemon product sales take off, as the brand is getting as much or more exposure as it was during the Pokemon craze of the late 90s, so if retailers can get fans already engaged with the brand into a retail location and present them with more ways to connect with it, magic may happen.