Pokemon Go and the Rise of Local Marketing
By now, there are uncontacted tribes in the Amazon that have not only heard of Pokémon GO but that are already out running around in their free time chasing Charmanders and Jigglypuffs. The game has firmly transitioned over from a trend into an all-out craze, and if you haven’t found yourself engulfed in a mob of Pikachu hunters at the park or startled by a Venusaur snooper in your backyard, well, the day isn’t over yet, is it?
Pokémon GO, an augmented reality (AR) game that people can download for free onto their smartphones, is growing in popularity so rapidly that its daily active user count is expected to exceed Twitter’s. According to some sources, there are already 65 million Poke-hunters in the US alone, and those users are doling out some $1.6 million for in-app purchases every day. That’s clearly good news for the developer, but what is it that has local businesses so excited? It’s all about local marketing.
Virtual Reality in the Real World
Pokémon GO involves using your smartphone to hunt virtual creatures located in the real world. Your local coffee shop or your city’s most noted art installations become PokéStops, drawing in gamers looking for much-needed Poke Balls and eggs, while other spots are designated as Gyms, giving users a place to train their Pokémon and put them into battle. Business owners have exactly zero choice in whether their storefront or office is designated as an important place in Pokémon land, but they do have all the options in the world when it comes to exploiting it.
If You Can’t Beat Them… Invite Them In?
The hardest thing for most businesses is simply getting people in the door. You can’t sell what you can’t showcase, but when foot traffic is a problem or your window display is falling a bit short, it’s easy to start floundering. Then you realize that you have something people want: Pokémon.
Some savvy businesses lucky enough to be designated as important Pokémon hot spots are now experiencing double their normal sales volume. How? They’re playing along. Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL, saw their ticket sales jump 10 to 15 percent in just the first week Pokémon GO released, thanks to their self-published guide for Poke-hunters and corresponding special events. Restaurants are restricting gameplay to people who sit and order an entrée (or drawing people in by offering an appetizer or dessert on the house), and other enterprising business owners are buying the game’s own Lure Modules to lure people in.
Local Marketing Beyond Pokémon Go – It’s All Part of a Trend
Pokémon Go might be shining a light on local marketing, but the concept is hardly new. The unparalleled growth of mobile marketing means that people are looking for goods and services while on the go more than ever before. Add to that location services that allow a business to find consumers using GPS (a service the consumer has to opt-in for, generally when they subscribe to a brand’s SMS list), and you have incredible potential via things like geotargeting and geofencing, wherein businesses locate nearby customers and use time-sensitive SMS coupons and push notification to draw them in. Combine that with the Pokémon trend – SMS deals specific to gameplay, for instance – and the possibilities are practically endless.
The point is this: the next time you see a grown man taking a picture of a half-dead patch of grass with unmitigated glee, you can be fairly certain he’s found himself a very rare Pokémon. More important, when you notice that your favorite bookstore is not only unusually busy but also covered in flyers advertising a 10 percent discount for Pokémon hunters, you know someone there is finally taking advantage of the mobile movement and the rise of local marketing.