It’s official – we’re on the hype. We’ve hit download and we’re hurling Pokéballs all over the place. But we’re loving Pokémon Go for so much more than the Magikarp we caught from the canal (apparently everyone’s got one). Here’s why…
Fun, free, fabulously nostalgic…
This mobile game has Team-Rocketed to the top of the Apple and Android stores – in record time. It’s now the biggest game in US mobile history – and as it only came out here yesterday, no doubt the same will apply to the UK anytime soon. It even has more users than Twitter. Go figure.
It’s fun, it’s free and fabulously nostalgic – for anyone who caught a Bulbasaur or two back in the 90s. But, it’s also a bloody brilliant marketing tool, as hundreds of small businesses are starting to find out.
The latest in augmented-reality tech
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last week (it’s not a Graveller is it? They’re pretty rare) we’ll tell you how it works. In this revolutionary augmented-reality game, players walk around real-life neighbourhoods in the hope of hunting down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens. They hatch PokéEggs. They train. They visit the Gyms to battle.
Duncan Bannatyne has been trying to get people to go to the gym for years. He’s missed a trick – all he needed to do was throw in a Jigglypuff or two.
So how is Pokémon Go used as a marketing tool?
For SMEs, restaurants and small retailers that are looking to increase footfall, it’s ideal. Game features allow users to purchase add-ons that spawn more, rare Pokémon – exactly what the millions of users are looking for. And as they have to physically walk to them to catch them? Well, they’ll probably be hungry when they get there.
Take L’inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City in New York. The owners of this independently-owned eatery claims its sales jumped 75% over the weekend, thanks to the activation of a “lure module”. This attracts virtual Pokémon characters to the store, thereby tempting in nearby players. Reports state that the store’s manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokémon characters placed in the location. £7.50 for a 75% increase in sales? That’s peanuts. Or Pokénuts.
Many shops are also attracting customers by advertising themselves as PokéStops. These are places where gamers can grab more PokéBalls and increase their level of power within the app.
The 90s is back baby!
Pokémon GO has enjoyed instant popularity – perhaps as a result of the reminiscence for the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise. It’s not often that millennials get to enjoy the renaissance of anything cool (we’re looking at you, jelly shoes) so it’s likely that Pokémon Go is here to stay. At least for a while. Or at least until someone’s caught Mewtwo.
So if SMEs are already cashing in on their Caterpies, no doubt the big dogs will be in on it. There have already been reports of McDonald’s getting in on in the act – a report on tech news site Gizmodo said that code in the game’s workings had been uncovered. The code indicated a sponsorship system and mentioned the name of McDonalds Corp. Alas; McDonald’s declined to comment on the matter or any of its marketing plans. Busted.
“With Pokémon GO, you are seeing the bypassing of a lot of digital marketing channels that brick and mortar shops have been relying on for the past few years,” said Christophe Jammet, director at DDG in New York.
“There hasn’t been a geo-location social platform that can lure so many people all at once.”
Nintendo’s shares sky-high
The Pokémon GO craze (plus the potential for third-party revenue) has seen Nintendo’s shares skyrocket. Since the game’s USA debut, the company’s market value has shot up to over $10billion. That’s a lotta’ bucks.
These gamers are highly engaged, spending far more time in the app than they do with some of the most popular social apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat. So we’ll be waiting with baited breath to see how the large brands plan to monopolise the platform.
We’re also willing to bet that the first Mew is spotted somewhere around a McDonald’s Drive-Thru. Cheeseburger anyone?