Pokémon GO marketing: Just hype or new platform for local businesses?

Pokemon Go In ActionPokemon Go Screenshot



Pokémon GO is already a cultural phenomenon despite only being released less than two weeks ago. Signup rates are growing exponentially—at time of writing, the daily users of the app just surpassed Twitter’s.

In addition, players spend far more time with it than they do with many other popular social apps.

Pokemon Go VS Social Media Apps

For those unfamiliar with the mobile game, Pokémon GO uses the popular Nintendo game license to gamify exercise and exploration. Players are encouraged to physically walk around to capture the titular Pokémon—monsters with unique powers that can be contained in pocket-sized capsules.

Pokemon Go Roster Edited

The game uses GPS technology to determine the player’s location down to the street and a special algorithm to decide which Pokémon spawn nearby. The game measures player success with higher levels, special badges, and opportunities to catch rarer Pokémon.

Also a part of the game are Pokéstops. These are special locations within the game corresponding to distinct landmarks and local hotspots. By visiting these Pokéstops, players are rewarded with in-game items that make capturing Pokémon easier. This game mechanic encourages players to physically visit unique places and that could be a huge boon to you and your business.

Pokemon Go Screenshot Pokestop IconPokemon Go Screenshot Pokestop Selected


If you are a Pokéstop or happen to be located near one (simply signing up for the game will help you figure out if you are; the game itself is free), you can benefit from the boost in foot traffic that will result:

  • You can put up a physical sign or share your Pokéstop status on social media as a free advertising opportunity and as a way to connect with younger customers.
  • You can offer a discount or free items to Pokémon GO players: free appetizers, 10% off, t-shirts, etc.
  • Alternatively, you can offer those same benefits only to players who have reached a certain level. For example, you can offer 10% only to those players who are level 10 and above. Players will appreciate the challenge and a tangible reward for their hard work.
  • You could also offer gradient discounts based on player levels—a 1% discount for level one players, a 2% discount for level 2, up to level 10. It’s a fun way to encourage players and still engage newcomers to the game to visit you.
  • You could embrace the color war aspect of the game–Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Mystic (Blue), or Team Valor (Red)—by offering discounts and benefits to specific teams on specific days. For instance, Team Valor gets a free small coffee on Mondays, and Team Instinct gets one on Thursday. This could encourage team players to visit your store or restaurant on a regular basis and even turn it into a hang-out location.
  • If you’re more game-savvy, you can download the game and use a Lure item on your location. This will cause Pokémon to flock to your Pokéstop, and with them players on the hunt. This might cost you a few bucks in the short run, but the long run gains could be substantial for certain types of businesses like restaurants.
  • Even offering simpler things such as charging stations (the game is notoriously power consuming) or bottles of water to thirsty walkers can do wonders for good word of mouth.

If you aren’t a Pokéstop and want to become one, you can now reach out to Niantic and ask them to mark your location as a stop. Even if you aren’t a restaurant or retail store, it’s still worth considering whether embracing the youthful foot traffic and increased opportunities for direct customer engagement could boost your business.

Businesses are already jumping on board the Pokémon GO marketing trend, and it could prove to be a long-lived one but only time will tell.

What do you think? Is it worth your time to discover why people are trying to catch them all?

 Pokémon GO is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Pokémon is a registered trademark of Nintendo Co., Ltd. Pokémon GO was developed by Niantic and distributed by The Pokémon Company. Thanks to Anthony DiMascio for his suggestions.

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