Marketing Potential of Pokémon Go

With the augmented reality game recently bursting onto the scene, we take a look at how businesses, small and large, can use the game to their advantage.

If 8 year old me found out that 28 year old me was writing an article about Pokémon as part of my job, he’d be pretty excited. But I’ll happily admit that I’m pretty excited too

Unless you’ve been on a two-year long expedition, deep in the Amazon, chances are you’ve been exposed to Pokémon Go in recent times. Every gamer’s dream finally came true when Nintendo and Niantic finally released the augmented reality, monster hunting app for smartphones and tablets; something that the gamer community had been crying out for since smartphones entered the mainstream.

The app is already a money spinner, despite it being free to download, and is reportedly raking in over $1.6million per DAY! In terms of app usage, it’s also attracting more traffic than Twitter. These are both very impressive stats, particularly when you consider it’s very much in its infancy.

What interested me most about Pokémon Go, aside from the fact that I caught a Pidgey in my living room, was how much marketing potential the game has.

Niantic’s previous game, Ingress, took advantage of its marketing potential, so it’s safe to assume that we will see Pokémon Go follow the same path.

So, the question is, what can we expect to see in the game? After extensively playing, for, um, research, I’ve drawn up a list of what we might see somewhere down the line.

Luring Customers

In the game, you have perishables – Pokéballs, Revives etc. and these are used to progress in the game, so what happens when you run out? The app invites you to visit locations aptly named PokéStops. These locations are usually public places and attractions, even bars and restaurants.

One thing that you can do at these PokéStops, is place a ‘lure’ on them. A lure is an in-game item that attracts all kinds of Pokémon to the PokeStop. As mentioned before, bars and restaurants can be PokéStops. Do you see where I’m going with this yet?

Yes, these places can place a lure on their establishments and the players will flock in. They can promote through their social channels, obviously, but the beauty of it is that the players can see themselves where the lures are using the in-game map, and go by their own volition.

Once there, they could even have special deals for the players. PokéMotive, if you will. And the best thing about these lures is that it costs than £1.60 per hour to use. Much cheaper than paying someone to hand out flyers in the street.

Pokémon Go Events

These lures, as effective as they may be on their own, have a greater marketing potential when used together. That is why I will bet my bottom dollar that you will see Pokémon Go events sooner rather than later.

Businesses are teaming up for Pokémon Go nights, where you start off in one place and move to others – all strategically planned for maximum Pokémon catching success. You could see things such as Pokémon Go Pub Crawls appearing soon enough. 1 hour in this bar, catch the Pokémon, drink the pints. On to the next pub, catch the Pokémon, drink the pints. Throw dressing up into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a pub crawl!

You can already envisage the swarms of people, dressed up in full Pokémon catching attire, drifting from pub to pub. Pokémon cocktails are also inevitably going to appear in some form or another. It is of course not limited to pub crawls, of course. These are just likely going to be the most prevalent.

Again, you can advertise these freely across social channels as these things tend to advertise themselves once they’re out in the open. Charge a small fee per person, and you will have made a profit from a game that your customers were already playing.

Sponsored Locations

Now, we saw sponsored locations as part of Ingress, so it can be all but guaranteed that we will see the same in Pokémon Go. In fact, it’s all but confirmed that they will be in the game.

So, what does this actually mean? We’ve already explained PokéStops, and how they are randomly placed around cities, towns etc. Getting a sponsored location means that businesses will be able to apply or pay to be a PokéStop location, and they can, of course, carry out the tactics explained above. However, they may be able to take it one further.

It’s likely that, for the right price, you will be able to add particular Pokémon to your location. Assumingly, the rarer and even ‘legendary’ Pokémon will be included. If you’re not familiar with legendary Pokémon, all you really need to know is that they are a big deal.

So, if you’re a hotel, for example, you could become a sponsored location, have a rare Pokémon at your location, put a lure on the location for extra Pokémon goodness, and then make it an event. You could even push ‘ghost’ type Pokémon who only come out at night, and promote overnight stays.

Real World Application

All of the above might seem a little childish, but when you actually look at the numbers associated with the Pokémon phenomenon, it’s not something to be ignored. Before the latest instalments, Pokémon games had sold over 279 million units. The franchise is second only to the Mario games. Its massive fan base regularly holds events all over the world that are attended by substantial numbers.

Its following is only growing, and the built-in audience consists of people from all walks of life. Your target market will be in there somewhere, and if you use the game properly, it will very much be to your benefit.

By Chris Smith, Pokémon Master