The Buzz: Consumers Will Stop for Pokémon Go
Ever since early July, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone staring down at their phone, aimlessly wandering around and twirling in circles every few feet. The cause: Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game from Japan’s Nintendo Co., where players hunt virtual characters in a real-time, real-world environment — as if you needed an explanation at this point. The game uses Google Maps and other software to really get AR right.
Due to the craze surrounding Pokémon Go, some retailers decided to try to get in on the action. They started purchasing Pokémon “lure modules” to attract players into their stores, where they could be enticed into make purchases — if they managed to look up from their phones for a second.
Out of its 6,000-plus brick-and-mortar stores, GameStop discovered that nearly 200 locations were designated as PokéGyms or PokéStops — places players gather at to find game items or “battle” others for Pokémon and world domination (totally joking on that last part … I think).
“Our stores have quickly become neighborhood hangouts for customers to come together to find and train their Pokémon, as well as purchase their favorite Pokémon Go merchandise, mobile devices, data plans, chargers, batteries and more,” explains Eric Bright, senior director of merchandising at GameStop.
Bright says Pokémon Go has helped double sales at these locations.
Other retailers are trying different types of promotions to get Pokémon Go players into their stores. RadioShack, for example, is taking care of players’ battery woes by promoting portable mobile chargers and power banks on its social channels — many of them even on sale.
Sprint has one of the most engaging campaigns around Pokémon Go. Each of the company’s 2,000 U.S. stores has a “Pokémon Go expert” on hand, whose job is to help players understand and play the game better. This is a smart way to attract more players to the store, whether they would usually shop at Sprint or not.
In the future, Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go, plans to allow companies to sponsor specific areas in the game map. This has the ability to open up new revenue opportunities for brick-and-mortar retailers struggling to compete against e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com.
Related story: How to Capitalize on the Pokémon Go Craze