Every 90’s kid remembers a time when they wished they lived in the Pokémon world. I remember growing up surrounded by the Pokémon franchise – the TV series, the cards, the toys… And I can still remember that one time I cried at the theme tune because Pokémon aren’t real. But perhaps most importantly, I remember the games, which I still collect to this very day. Technology has come a long way since the GameBoy and its successors. So far in fact, that we can virtually live in the Pokémon world. Earlier this month, a free app was officially launched in selected locations for Apple and Android devices. This genius app is Pokémon GO, a game that allows players to catch Pokémon using augmented reality technology.

Just how popular is Pokémon GO?

This game is extremely popular. Pokémon GO means that we can finally catch Pokémon in the real world (hurray) to become a Pokémon master.

Pokemon GO

Pokémon GO has already overtaken Twitter in daily active users and Tinder in app downloads, but it doesn’t stop there. Users are now spending more time on the game than social media giant Facebook. As it grows, Nintendo shares surge in Japan.

Though I was originally apprehensive about the popularity of a game that requires its players to get out of the house, studies have also revealed that people are becoming more active as a result of the game’s launch.

This may be the case, but Pokémon GO does have some initial issues while it rolls out worldwide. Kids and nostalgic adults alike are flocking to the app, resulting in crashes and loading issues where game servers just can’t keep up. These problems have not been helped by hackers, who attacked the game last weekend to highlight the game’s lack of security. Not that this seems to have deterred any Poké fans (myself included).

Pokemon GO

And just in case that doesn’t quite cover how popular it is, Pokémon and Pokémon GO trended on both Twitter and Facebook earlier this month and people are now Google searching Pokémon GO more than porn.

How has Pokémon GO affected businesses?

Enough about its popularity though. You probably already guessed that it’s insanely acclaimed by the sheer amount of millennials milling around with their phones at the ready (guilty as charged). There’s much more to talk about!

Though the game may seem like another veiled health drive, it’s actually pretty good for businesses. If you’re familiar with the Pokémon franchise at all, you may be aware of gyms, which are places where Pokémon trainers can battle to earn badges. In Pokémon GO, gyms are selected GPS landmarks which players can battle to control. These can be anything, from your local play park to a shop in town. Just as an example, we discovered that the Grand Pier is one of them.

Pokemon GO

There are other notable in-game locations that I should mention. These are Poké Stops, which are also based on GPS locations, such as pubs and monuments. When a player passes a Poké Stop, they are able to collect mystery items and can also leave a module there to lure Pokémon. As a result, you may see more people gathered there on their phones, frantically swiping their screens.

Although you may see an increase in loiterers, just think of the brand awareness the game can provide for businesses when visitors pass by. And think of the sales! GameStop’s CEO has recently stated that sales have gone up 100% in stores with Poké Stops and L’inizo Pizza Bar’s sales increased by 75% when they set up modules to lure more Pokémon to their restaurant.

It looks like McDonald’s has realised the potential of Pokémon GO. Rather recently, some techies discovered a snippet of code suggesting that McDonald’s will be the first sponsored location within the app. No one is sure yet whether this means that the restaurants will be Poké Stops or gyms, but either is promising for drawing trainers in. Other businesses will most likely be able to jump on a sponsorship deal in the near-future, but this may be a far off dream for smaller companies.

How can my business jump on the Pokémon GO trend?

If you’re a Poké Stop or gym, then congratulations! You will already be seeing an increase in visitors, even if they are just loitering outside, staring at their phones. But how can you draw these people in and how can you really capitalise on the trend? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Create your own free account and leave modules at your Poké Stop to attract more Pokémon – and more trainers as a result!
  2. Tell your fans on social media and create special offers on your products for Pokémon trainers, such as a free drink or 25% off a specific product
  3. If you’re a gym, keep an eye on the team currently in control and hang a flag in the colour of that team at the window
  4. Be proactive in encouraging Pokémon trainers to enter your premises – this could just be a short, friendly notice

But if you’re not a Poké Stop or gym, don’t panic. There are still ways for you to get in on the action! You can create fun and creative Pokémon trainer offers, like free pizza for Pokémon trainers over Level 10 to keep them energised on their journey or 10% off shoes to keep them well-equipped for their forays. And you can still talk about it on social media, especially if you can make it relevant to your business. If you’re a clothes shop, try creating Pokémon GO character cosplay from items around the store or if you’re a restaurant, try creating a dish that relates to Pokémon, like a Tentacruel jelly.

If you’re still a bit stuck, check out this creative offer by My Family’s Pizza, which encourages trainers to level up for better offers.

Pokemon GO

Central West Libraries advertises its lure times on social media.

Pokemon GO

And this electronics store ups its game to advertise portable chargers.

Pokemon GO

Or check out more ideas here!

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