Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks you’ll be well aware of just how huge Pokémon GO has become in such a short period of time. Everyone’s talking about it. The location-based augmented reality smartphone game has truly taken the world by storm – Nintendo’s share value has risen 120% since July 6th, adding $23 billion to their market value. The app has sat at the top of the charts since release, and also conquers the ‘top grossing’ charts, bringing in well over $1.5 million a day. But with this huge success we’ve seen a new form of marketing emerge.
As Pokémon GO takes place in the ‘real world’, we’re already seeing some incredibly interesting and creative forms of marketing take place surrounding the game’s popularity. Players move around the real world whilst using their smartphones to discover where the Pokémon can be found and caught. ‘Pokéstops’ are scattered around the environment (determined using Google maps data and also user submitted information), such as churches or local monuments, where players can visit to collect various random rewards such as Pokéballs (to catch more Pokémon), potions (to heal Pokémon after battles), eggs (to hatch whilst walking a set amount), and more. Players can also place ‘lures’ onto a Pokéstop which then publicly attracts more Pokémon to this location – creating a physical real world buzz around specific areas where people congregate to catch more. There are also ‘Gyms’ where players can battle with their collected Pokémon to take control of the gym, for prestige and in-game rewards.
It’s the Pokéstops and gyms which are starting to create new and unique forms of marketing. Shops nearby to Pokéstops are buying these ‘lures’ (with real money!) to attract customers to that location. Knowing that Pokémon GO players are likely to visit the area, and therefore potentially attract them to visit their shops. Kaleidoscope Café in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania were quick to notice the increase in foot traffic and started offering a 10% discount to anyone who showed off the Pokémon GO app. A pizza shop in Manhattan, L’inizio Pizza Bar, discovered that a $10 investment in lure modules led to a 30% increase in food and drink sales through the weekend. Small businesses are seeing some great returns on investments thanks to clever Pokémon GO marketing tricks.
There’s an animal shelter in Indiana which is encouraging people to come and take one of their dogs for a walk whilst you’re out capturing Pokémon or hatching eggs; a nice feel good bit of promotion. We’ve even heard of kids in the US setting up lemonade stands next to a Pokéstop after placing a lure module onto it.
One of the more high profile examples of Pokémarketing is taking place in Japan. This morning the game launched in Japan, and with it McDonalds have teamed up with Pokémon GO developer Niantic to feature 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the app as Pokémon Gyms. If the game can sustain itself beyond a temporary craze, this sponsorship is sure to be absolutely huge for both parties. The suggestion is that, if the scheme is successful, it will be replicated elsewhere.
What’s amazing to see is that the vast majority of these marketing ideas surrounding the game have seen massive success. Whilst the evidence is anecdotal, we’ve read a myriad of stories highlighting that these tactics genuinely do work. Whether it’s free samples, discounts, or simply using the game itself, Pokémarketing looks to be an actual thing. It’ll be interesting to see how this kind of marketing develops over the next few years, particularly if the game can sustain its playerbase. We’re almost guaranteed to see more developers try to create their own augmented reality smartphone games, and if this genre maintains popularity we may very well be seeing a brand new form of marketing in its infancy.