By now, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that has taken the entire world by storm. For those of you that are not familiar with it, Pokémon is from the Japanese “pocket monsters,” an incredibly popular video game, trading card, and TV series. Pokémon roam about the land, and, as a trainer, your job is to locate them, capture them in PokéBalls, and then train them to grow stronger and eventually evolve. I played this game on my Nintendo Game Boy growing up, followed that up with the card game during lunchtime at school, and got home to watch the TV show.
Even though Pokemon brings up nostalgic memories, it continues to be a popular franchise to this day. In fact, during Super Bowl 50, Pokemon was one of the top four mentioned brands on social media, according to research by BrandWatch. And you may even remember seeing Google post a job opportunity in 2014 on April Fools Day for a Pokémon Master.
I should start by saying that the game is not visually impressive. I’m pretty sure Nintendo’s Tecmo Super Bowl circa 1991 had better graphics than this game. However, in a world where our gaming systems and PCs get more and more powerful, providing near lifelike experiences through our televisions and computer screens, Pokémon Go does the polar opposite. Pokémon Go is encouraging users to get up off the couch and out into their world. In doing, so users are walking, talking to each other, and being… social?!
Just How Popular Is Pokémon Go?
The craze has gone so mainstream that I’ve seen people posting their Pokémon adventures while on vacation in Europe, at the gym, while out at the bar, and even on the subway. The app has become so popular that it’s about to surpass the DAUs (daily active users) of Twitter for the Android platform! Users are spending so much time walking around that they are opting for Pokémon Go over Facebook.
Let’s take a look at the generational phenomenon happening here. Looking at the graph below, you’ll notice 55 percent of people talking about Pokémon Go are millennials—no shocker there. But let’s look at the breakdown of the remaining 45 percent.
24 percent are between ages 35 and 50, 11 percent are somewhere between 7 and 20 years old. Then you have this whopping 9 percent of 52 to 75+ year-old users. I have never used this in a statistic when talking about apps before, but with Pokémon Go, we’re looking at a 7–77 year old age range. (highlight to tweet) Grandparents are playing with their great-grandchildren!
In a further look at online conversations, my friends Michelle Dziuban and James Rubec (Social Media Managers at Cision) helped me analyze more than 500,000 social messages, which represent five percent of all Twitter messages and 80 percent of news mentions, including those from Reddit and other online forums from the United States. What the analysis shows is that there’s been a 300 percent increase in conversations about Pokémon Go over the week.
In addition, consider these Pokémon Go statistics:
- Cision monitored more than 1.6 million social and online news mentions written by nearly 1 million authors between July 4 and July 14. This includes a representative sample of Twitter and Instagram mentions and more than 183,000 online news stories.
- Daily Pokémon Go online mentions have increased from 292 on July 4, to 282,833 on July 12, representing a 968-fold increase in mentions between the two days. At the same time, the number of authors has grown from 198 on July 4 to 142,900 on July 12.
- The average Pokémon Go commenter shares 1.67 messages about the game.
- Cision identified more than 10,000 authors who have self-identified as either College Students, Millennials or those from Gen X. Current college students represent 52 percent of the Pokémon Go commentators in this self-identified group.
Of course, the big brands are noticing and jumping in on the fun.
— Amazon (@amazon) July 11, 2016
— Mall of America (@mallofamerica) July 11, 2016
How Your Business Can Join in the Fun
Now, you’re probably asking, “Why is this relevant to me? I’m a small business owner.” Here are just a few ideas for specific types of businesses. Feel free to use them as they are or expand upon them for the ultimate customer experience.
- Restaurants, Bars, Diners, Pizza Places, Coffee Shops: If you’re a food or beverage establishment, take advantage of a nearby PokéStop and use the in-game “Lure Module” to attract users to catch Pokémon while patronizing your establishment. Be sure to offer a nice incentive, too!
- Realtors: If you’ve got upcoming open houses, can you offer a Pokemon incentive for that home that just won’t sell?
- Mechanics: Slow this time of year? Offer a Pokémon check-up and service! Allow customers to catch ’em while they wait. Drop a lure to give people something extra to get excited about.
- Doctors and Dentists: Get those slackers in for their yearly checkups and cleanings with a Lure Module and a well-timed social media post or email blast.
- Museums and Public Libraries: Create walking tours where patrons can catch Pokémon and learn.
- Tourism Boards: Offer incentives for people coming to your landmark, town, or city!
Consider these ideas any type of business can try:
- Hosting a PokéParty is a cheap and easy way to bring traffic to your establishment. Use a lure to attract Pokémon for patrons, who will stick around socializing with other Pokémon trainers and spend money in your store.
- Host a battle tournament! If you’re closer to a PokéGym, where trainers train their Pokémon, you can give incentives to winners. Because of the team play, you’ll have more than enough people spending time and money with you.
- Screenshot the Pokémon you find in your establishment and post about it online. Offer social media specials to those that come in to try catching those Pokémon.
How are some businesses currently handling the craze? Check out these photos below.
One thing businesses currently cannot do is apply to become a PokéStop or PokéGym … yet. PokéStops and PokéGyms are predetermined by the developer, Niantic Labs, using an algorithm. However, as announced on Wednesday, Pokémon Go will soon get ads in the form of sponsored locations. Businesses may be able to request to be a PokéStop, allowing them to reap the benefits that were once pre-determined by the game engine.
Businesses Reap the Rewards of Being Pokéfriendly
What kind of results have businesses seen? Scouring Twitter reveals some owners talking about the boost in their business.
@vincenzolandino I’ve been working on a look at foot traffic. Haven’t had a lure attract less than 20 people all weekend.
— Karl Taylor (@karljtaylor) July 11, 2016
@vincenzolandino haha someone was gonna do it. Why not you? Actually got my client to throw up lure modules. They made 45% moe yesterday
— Michael Hernsin (@michaelhernsin) July 11, 2016
@vincenzolandino yea lol they were lucky enough to be a bar with a stop. We did a “catch a Pokemon here and get 2for2 drinks”
— Michael Hernsin (@michaelhernsin) July 11, 2016
In New York City, L’inizio’s pizza had business go up 75 percent after paying $10 to continue to put up Lures connected to the store. “We had people come down, sit down, and get a couple beers and play the Pokémon game,” said manager Sean Benedetti, according to The New York Post.
With the use of the in-game item called a “Lure,” which attracts Pokémon to a specific PokéStop for 30 minutes, savvy business owners can increase the foot traffic near their store during that period of time. Anyone in the area can see the Pokémon that are coming out of the woodwork.
No one knows how long the Pokémon Go mania will last, but it may last longer than most trends because it’s doing something that few other games have been able to do: get authentically social by connecting our digital and physical lives. Pokémon Go is combining nostalgia with a powerful franchise and tapping into a wide demographic.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop or not, and no matter your beliefs around Pokémon Go, you cannot deny the power of this phenomenon. Augmented reality is the next frontier. Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are dumping tons of money into researching this technology, and the mighty Pokémon is paving the way.
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