Is Pokemon GO the Newest Unlikely Marketing Tool for Retailers?

If you haven’t heard of Pokemon GO by now, you’ve probably been walking around with a blindfold around your eyes and plugs in your ears. Despite only launching in five countries, Pokemon GO rapidly established a cult-like following from young and old iPhone and Android users alike. After just seven days, more than 64 million Americans had downloaded the Pokemon GO app.

The success has shocked everyone, even the participants themselves. The Pokemon cartoon and game originated about 20 years ago, so those people born in the 1980s and 1990s who grew up with Pokemon now can enjoy the nostalgia of the new GO feature. Yet Pokemon GO has also attracted an entirely new audience, the younger generation who didn’t grow up with Pokemon, but did grow up with smart phones. The Pokemon GO app has truly become a game for all ages as it challenges users to find Pokemon characters in their individual environments.

Now businesses are realizing that Pokemon GO can actually be utilized as a marketing tool. For example, a pizza bar in Long Island City in New York spent $10 to activate a “lure module” feature in order to attract virtual Pokemon characters to the store. In other words, Pokemon GO players located near the pizza bar would see that they could capture more pokemon by heading to the restaurant. According to the store’s manager, the pizza bar grew sales by 75 percent over the weekend thanks to Pokemon GO alone.

According to a director of social media and mobile at a consultancy firm in New York, “There hasn’t been a geolocation social platform that can lure so many people all at once.” Stores are doing their best to capitalize on this by advertising themselves as “Poke Stops,” locations where Pokemon Go players can virtually obtain new Pokemon balls and increase their power level in the app. One sign outside of a popular movie theater even read, “You can catch three Pokemon here. Just saying!”

Clearly, Pokemon GO has become a very unlikely yet effective marketing tool for businesses willing to get creative and play along.