The augmented reality, location-based game from Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd, where players across the country walk around their neighborhoods to hunt down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, has more than 65 million users in the United States.
The app currently has more users in the US than Twitter Inc. does globally, and the has been downloaded more times in one week than Tinder has in five years, according to Gizmodo. Additionally, Pokémon Go’s release has added more than $7.5 billion to publisher Nintendo’s market value.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is based on the entertainment franchise of games, trading cards and cartoons that began in the 1990s, and the new game runs on Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones. While the game mainly appeals to Millennials (people like me), it has also been winning the hearts of people from all age brackets and walks of life.
Because the app is location-based, the game requires users to go to specific, real-world sites to “catch” Pokémon. There are “PokéStops,” which are usually restaurants and other places where people might gather and where players can pick up useful in-game items, and “Gyms,” where players can battle each other.
Where the “check-in” apps of the world (like Foursquare, for instance) have failed to crack that real-world-to-digital-world gap, Pokémon Go has succeeded and is already making an impact on the world of marketing — by helping local restaurants, coffee shops and small retailers to attract new customers.
Some companies are highlighting their good luck at being designated Poké Stops, with some even investing in lures through the app to attract as many Pokémon, and Pokémon Go players, as possible.
This being said, it’s easy to see how Pokémon could have an impact on where and patrons choose to take their business. Last week, Applebee’s used Twitter to share reports of Pokémon sightings at some of their locations.
My husband, who works as a video games journalist, spoke with an employee at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, an amusement park and waterpark in Pennsylvania. The company, who has noticed on social media that people are excited about the prospect of hunting Pokémon in the park, is encouraging them to share photos of what they’ve found under the hashtag #DorneyPokemon. It even posted a series of tips on its blog to help players find Pokémon in the park in locations they might not expect.
I’ve also seen many images on public forum website, Reddit, where business owners have offered discounts to Pokémon Go players, hoping to turn all that extra walking players are doing into extra sales.
Experts said it is only a matter of time before major brands, the world of entertainment included, also jump on the bandwagon. And why not? The app has a few key traits that brands of all types should take into consideration:
-It’s getting people outside of their homes
With the main goal of catching Pokémon, the app pushes players to go walk around and explore. That means higher foot traffic in populated areas and the potential to come up with a clever idea to catch players’ attention.
-The app is location-specific
Players are wandering around looking for PokéStops, locations where players can grab up free items, like Pokéballs and healing potions, and gyms, where Pokémon battle for prestige. There’s room to make these spots even more attractive to trainers by dropping a lure that attracts more Pokémon to that area for 30 minutes.
-Pokémon Go is a social game at its core
The app encourages socialization, because many players end up at locations where other people are playing the game. Pokémon Go seems to engender a spirit of camaraderie, with strangers bonding over trade tips and funny personal anecdotes to play the game. Find a way to get in on the fun — either through social media or public events, by perhaps by offering a charging station or sponsoring a Pokémon Gym, to capture public attention
-Tribalism is a factor
After players reach level 5, they must pledge their loyalty to one of three teams: Instinct (yellow team,) Mystic (blue team) or Valor (red team.) This has already encouraged friendly competition, personal identification and rivalries. Catering to specific teams by offering gifts or special perks could lead to brand loyalty.
New technology is always a challenge to navigate, but there’s potential for the results could pay off for your brand in a big way. Keep being creative and Catch ‘Em All!