Bring on the nostalgia because Pokémon is back and available free of charge on any smart phone via a downloadable app. Last week, Nintendo and Niantic launched Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game geared toward getting people off their couches and into the real world to hunt virtual Pokémon. The app’s instant popularity was somewhat staggering.
So, how does it work? The app uses Google Maps and geolocation to create a world map for players full of Pokémon Gyms, Stops, and hidden Pokémon. Players are encouraged to get outside and find Pokémon by actually walking around and hunting them in real time. The Pokémon are displayed on the player’s phone and made to look as if they are in the player’s actual surroundings. This augmented reality is accomplished thanks to the app’s connection to the user’s camera. Another important aspect of the game are PokeStops, which are virtual in-game locations, usually set at real-life landmarks that contain PokéBalls and other pieces players need to play the game. Players are encouraged to hunt Pokémon, battle other players, and take over Gyms. Gyms are areas where players can battle for control of virtual locations, which like PokeStops are tied to a real-world location.
This newest fad, available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store, has already surpassed Tinder downloads and appears to now have exceeded the number of Americans using Twitter, which at last count was 65 million. But what does this all mean for your business?
This new popular game, depending on how long it lasts, can be used in marketing your business and attracting customers. There are also some ramifications that the app can have on your business.
Consider both the pros and cons of Pokémon Go when it comes to your business and decide whether or not it can be a new marketing tool:
The Pros and Cons of Pokémon Go for Your Business
Pros of Pokémon Go:
The main pro of this app is that it is popular. It’s got more usage than apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Let’s say your business is a PokeStop or generally just has a lot of virtual Pokémon around it, this can potentially draw app users to your business. Not only that, but you can even attract Pokémon to your business and thus app users by dropping a “lure” within the app, which draws the virtual Pokémon to your location for thirty minutes.
Once the Pokémon Trainers are visiting your business with the goal to catch Pokémon, your goal will be to convert those Pokémon Trainers into customers. Gotta Catch ‘em all. For example, give a discount to any customers who catch a Pokémon in or near your place of business. Set lures during low times in your business day and announce it over social media to attract customers to your business.
You can also use the general fad of the game to market your business. This privately-owned store knew what they were doing when they posted a sign outside of their door promoting their PokeStop and products all at the same time!
Lastly, it’s important to note that there is sure to be much more to come with this app. The developers are already reporting upcoming improvements and new features, like the ability to trade Pokémon and the ability to turn your business into a PokeStop, something currently predetermined by the app. This may not just be a fad after all.
Cons of Pokémon Go:
Before you set up a “lure” within your business, consider the cons that may come with the Pokémon Go app. First, if your place of business is a PokeStop it could attract loiterers. If you cannot convert these players to customers, it can be frustrating to have a hoard of people in or around your business that are not patrons. This can cause general disruption and even turn would-be shoppers away.
Distraction in the workplace is a long standing battle. This app is not just for children so it is very likely that your employees are also Pokémon Trainers (players). This addicting app can cause a drop in productivity for your employees. Instead of a formal reprimand right away, consider promoting office-wide Pokémon hunts on breaks and lunch hours and lay out clear lines of expectations while on the clock.
Due to to the wandering nature of the Pokemon, and their preferred hours of the day (yes, some come out only at night), a business with a physical location may find more traffic after dark. This does not imply innocents playing the game are looking to do harm, but as a business owner, you should be aware.
Pokémon Go has been an extremely fast-growing fad, being installed on more Android smartphones in the United States than the dating app Tinder, and should not be ignored. By last Friday, it was already installed on 5.16% of US Androids compared to Tinder’s 2%. The program is only going to evolve from here. Choosing to capitalize on the opportunity will helps your business stay current and can even be a new marketing strategy to attract customers. If you haven’t yet, try downloading the app and try to catch ‘em all. You may find you like it!
Hailey Johnson is a senior at LSU studying Mass Communication. If she is not binge watching Netflix, you can find her catching up on trending social media topics or day dreaming about traveling. She enjoys short walks on the beach and obsessing over pop culture.
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