Insight July 25, 2016

More Than Just a Game: How Small Businesses Can Capitalize on the Pokémon GO Movement



Released only two weeks ago, on July 6, Pokémon GO has rapidly become a global mobile sensation. The free-to-play location-based app is available for iOS and Android devices and uses the phone’s GPS and camera to create an augmented reality for users to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures.

So what does Pokémon GO fever mean for small businesses? Well, a lot actually. It presents a major driver for business, as well as an opportunity to target a new demographic. Here are three ways that local businesses can capitalize on this movement:

  1. Take advantage of nearby PokéStops and Gyms

PokéStops and Gyms generate foot-traffic with virtually no effort (no pun intended). People are going to flock to these locations to replenish items, battle other teams, and train their Pokémon. If your business is fortunate enough to be a registered PokéStop or Gym, be sure to let customers and passersby know, if they don’t already. Put a sandwich board in front of your store or a sign in the window advertising your status and inviting people in to “catch em’ all.”

If your business isn’t a PokéStop, but you’re in an area with more than one in close proximity, then you’re going to have to get creative…which brings us to our next point.

  1. Sit back, drop a lure, and enjoy the show

Here’s where this whole thing gets interesting. Pokémon GO players are essentially on a virtual scavenger hunt trying to find and capture these characters. The app allows businesses to purchase things called lure modules, which attach to the nearest PokéStop and increase the rate at which wild Pokémon will appear in the area. So, a local business – such as a restaurant, bar, or retail store – can actually draw Pokémon GO users to their location by placing these lures. Because the lures only last for 30 minutes at a time, you’ll need to buy a few if you want to attract people throughout the day. One lure module costs approximately $.99, a small price to pay for an influx in traffic (and potentially sales).

  1. Promote your Pokémon on social media

Even if your business isn’t near a PokéStop or Gym, you’re still going to have Pokémon. Promoting these treasured creatures on social media and letting people know that they’ve been seen popping up in the area is not only easy, but also it’s free.

If you don’t have a large social media following or if you want to drive even more traffic to your channels, perhaps you should consider investing in paid social media advertising. This will allow you to create ads which are targeted to a specific demographic and geographic radius of your choice, thereby increasing the chances of reaching people who are more likely to stop by your place of business.

It’s important to understand the potential rewards Pokémon GO can have for your business, while also keeping in mind the risks involved. Because of the nature of the app, the player’s view of reality is modified, so it’s quite easy to get wrapped up in the game and forget about real-life things going on around you. When searching for Pokémon, always be aware of your surroundings and use your best judgement.

Love it or hate it, it has become clear to everyone, local businesses included, that Pokémon GO is more of a social phenomenon than a game. It presents a wide range of opportunities for local businesses to attract consumers and have fun while doing it. So what are you waiting for?

This article originally appeared on The Greater Memphis Chamber SBC Big Ideas blog.