How Brands And Retailers Are Utilizing Pokémon Go

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Ralph's Pokemon Go Augmented Reality Challenge

We wanted to take a look at how brands and retailers are utilizing Pokémon Go to drive in-store Augmented Reality and geolocation engagement with their customers.  For starters, if you’re not aware of Pokémon Go or why it has become a global phenomenon, you can view our previous post on the Pokémon Go Augmented Reality game here.  Since that post and in the last month, Pokémon Go has:

With those types of numbers, it’s easy to see why brands and retailers are jumping on the Pokémon Go and Augmented Reality bandwagon.  But we wanted to take a closer look at the different ways brands and retailers are utilizing Pokémon Go to drive people to their store and what types of promotions they are using for users while in store.


Pokemon Go McDonald's Japan

A few weeks after the Pokémon Go launch, Niantic announced that McDonald’s Japan would be one of the first Sponsored locations in the Pokémon Go virtual world.  Of 2,500 McDonald’s stores, 400 would be deemed gyms while the remaining 2,500 locations would act as Pokéstops. In short, Gyms and Pokéstops are physical destinations for the Pokémon Go player to visit to charge up or battle others.  You can view more detailed info on Pokéstops and Gyms at a Pokémon Go wiki here.

Shortly after the Pokémon Go sponsored locations announcement, McDonald’s Japan announced a 27% jump in sales.


Pokemon Go Retail Promotion

While larger brands and retailers will have budgets necessary to sponsor a large amount of Pokéstops and Gyms, smaller businesses have also been having success using other features within Pokémon Go. One feature is the ability to purchase “Lures” for use in a Pokéstop. Lures are time limited and attract wild Pokémon to the Pokéstop location. This in turn, drives more Pokémon players to the Pokéstop area to catch the Pokémon. This allows small businesses to strategically use lures to drive people to their store or highlight a promotion near the Pokéstop area.

Anime Pop, while being selected as an original Pokéstop, saw 57% of new, game playing customers to their retail location make a $40 average purchase. You can read more about the Anime Pop experiment and use of Pokéstops and Lures here.


T-Mobile Pokemon Go Promotion

Other business are taking advantage of old fashioned physical signage to attract nearby Pokémon Go players. While some retailers have been frustrated with people in their stores there to only catch Pokémon, other retailers have tried to capitalize on the growing and nearby foot traffic (see T-mobile image above).

Some small businesses have gotten lucky based on their location. Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream saw an increase in sales due to their proximity to multiple Pokéstop locations. This isn’t surprising given a recent Slant Marketing survey that found 82% of Pokémon Go players had visited a business while playing the game.


One other method brands and retailers have been using to leverage the Pokémon Go craze is to promote the game on their social media channels. Ralph’s (part of Kroger Grocery Stores), utilized a promotion on it’s Facebook page to offer gift certificates for shoppers that played Pokémon Go while shopping in their stores. Shoppers are uploading Pokémon Go screenshots from inside Ralph’s stores to help drive further awareness of the promotion.  Embedded below is the Facebook post promoting the Ralph’s Pokémon Go promotion.

While Pokémon Go itself might turn out to be a short term fad, the game is showing retailers and brands the power of geolocation and Augmented Reality. Other mobile augmented reality and geolocation games such as the Hungry Jack’s Protect Your Whopper game, show how localized location-based Augmented Reality can also promote a brand experience and engage customers both in-store and remotely.  Pokémon Go though has shown how powerful geofencing and geolocation can be for small businesses to attract new customers. As GPS and Augmented Reality technology improves, Augmented Reality companies will offer even more advanced location-based AR experiences that might very well become the new normal for small business promotions.