Why Pokemon GO is a potential marketing powerhouse


Unless you’re a hermit living in the Himalayas, you’ve probably heard of Pokemon Go. It has become a global cultural phenomenon since its launch a few weeks ago. For the uninitiated, Pokemon GO is a free-to-play Augmented Reality exergame for smartphones based on the Pokemon universe. Underneath all its layers, it is a modern day marketing powerhouse.

Image credit- Shutterstock

Related read: How a 2013 April Fools’ prank eventually became the viral sensation Pokémon Go

A bevy of businesses have reacted to the Pokemon Go rage in their own ingenious ways.

  1. Bloomberg published an interesting piece about L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in New York. The proprietor reported a 30 percent increase in sales by using Lure Modules.
  2. McDonald’s Japan launched Pokemon-themed Happy Meals, which have been flying off the shelves, leading to a 23 percent increase in their share prices.
  3. Ride-sharing company Fasten, from Boston, has been offering $5 rides to Pokemon hunters from nine different locations around the city.
  4. The Rogue & Vagabond bar in New Zealand has been marketing itself as a ‘Pokemon-friendly establishment’, making use of Lures to get hordes of people to visit.
  5. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama has been offering a special group admission price of $13 to visitors with the Pokemon Go app.
  6. U.S telecom giant T-Mobile is offering free data to their users for 1 year for playing Pokemon Go.

See how businesses are cashing in on the Pokemon Go craze:

A Best Buy employee displaying Poke-Offers ( Source: Imgur )


A pub advertising their Pokestop status ( Source: Reddit )

This Church is doing it right! ( Source: Reddit )

What makes this game so lucrative for businesses today?

  • Data Mining:

The game collects a lot of user data. Your Google name, Gmail address, your physical location, your IP address and the most recent web page that you visited are captured by servers. Big Data is essential for bigger and better marketing campaigns, and Niantic knows that. I can imagine a lot of tech and retail giants lining up to get their hands on this data goldmine.

  • Sponsored in-game content:

Product placement in video games has been done in the past with varied success. Expect the same from Pokemon Go in the future. Sponsored in-game content in the form of upgrades and items could be a massive opportunity as the game is a ready-made mass advertising platform. The digital sleuths at Google won’t take long to figure out a way to put AdWords in the game. The only challenge is to not let the ads disrupt the gaming experience.

  • Sponsored Locations:

Niantic has confirmed that they will partner with businesses in the future to create sponsored Gyms and Pokestops. The biggest news coming out regarding this is McDonald’s sponsorship deal. It will be initially implemented in Japan, converting more than 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants into sponsored Gyms. Similar tie-ups are in the works the world over.

If you happen to be an SME business owner, here is how you can leverage the Pokemon craze for attracting more business:

Direct Footfall increase:

If your business happens to be a Pokestop or a Gym, or is situated close to one, then you can use the “Lure module”. They are available as an in-game purchase, which attracts Pokemon to your location for 30 minutes. For $60, you can have an exponential increase in visitors for 30 minutes at your establishment. Maybe you could interest them in your wares once they are done hunting.

Brand Promotion:

This is a golden opportunity, to be grabbed with both hands, to advertise your SME. Getting your brand associated with the game is a chance to get easy publicity by word-of-mouth marketing.

  • Leverage Social Media. If your business enterprise happens to be a Pokestop or a Gym, advertise it on social media.
  • Devise Schemes and Offers. Offer discounts to Pokemon Go players for every check-in to your business on social media.
  • Provide Value Indirectly. If your business doesn’t happen to be in the vicinity of a Pokemon location, you can advertise the presence of a phone charging facility (the app consumes a lot of battery!) and offer discounted products and services to players of the game.
  • Go all out with events. Organise a Pokewalk. Ask your staff to dress up in company branded clothing and offer freebies to participants. It will guarantee loads of social media mentions.

Business Standard revealed an interesting story about California-based fitness startup GOQUii. They have been organising fitness-based events called Active Sundays for a while, usually attracting 40-50 people. A Pokewalk was organised by them in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, inviting individuals to play the game while working out.

The event was an unprecedented success with over 500 people attending. It quickly became the largest gathering in the event’s 18-month timeline. The use of Lure Modules went down well with budding Pokemon hunters, and the brand generated favourable amounts of goodwill.

Summing it all up, these Infographics convey ways in which SMB manufacturers and retailers in India can cash in on the Pokemon craze.

Bountiful opportunities for Manufacturers

Pokemon Go is a boon for Retailers, Food & Beverage players

Image credit- Zepo.in

Real-Life Examples:

  1. An enterprising entrepreneur has already come up with a 3D printed iPhone 6 case built specifically to play Pokemon Go. The construction is such that it aids aiming to make sure you never miss a throw again.
  2. Fuelled by Pokemon Go, retailers like GameStop and RadioShack are reporting 45 and 50 percent increases respectively in sales of phone chargers and charging equipment.
  3. GameStop's 462 stores that incidentally happened to be in-game Gyms witnessed almost 100 percent increases in sales.

With time, improved hardware on smartphones will usher in a new era of mobile apps that will exist in an Augmented Reality ecosystem supported by enhanced geolocation abilities. The game has started a technological revolution that will have deep consequences on the business and marketing ecosystem in the future.

Related reads: Pokémon GO has reached its peak in the US, on the decline now

Location-based augmented reality game, Pokemon Go may have health benefits : experts

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)