Pokemon Go as a retail marketing tool

Since Pokémon Go’s surge in popularity in the US following the app’s launch this month, many retailers are now looking to seize marketing opportunities while the app is still trending, reports Reuters.

The app looks like it may be set to challenge young internet companies that specialize in increasing foot traffic for small businesses, and may play a role in major brand marketing.

The game, which requires players to walk around real-life neighborhoods to hunt for virtual Pokémon characters on their smartphones, has more than 65 million users in the US after launching in the first week.

The game is already playing a part in boosting foot traffic for restaurants, coffee shops and small retailers.

A pizza bar in Long Island City in New York claims that its sales jumped 75% over the weekend, by activating a lure model feature that attracts virtual Pokémon characters to the store.

The store manager only paid $10 to have a dozen Pokémon characters placed at the location.

This level of instant effect could become a potential threat for companies like Living Social Inc. and Foursquare, and other companies which have revolutionized online marketing for smaller businesses.

People born in the 1980s and 90s  grew up with Pokémon. It’s approachable and reassuring and that’s why it’s gone from zero to millions of users in just a few days.

The app has a chance to disrupt others as there has not been a geo-location social platform that can lure in so many people at once. With Pokémon Go, it is bypassing a lot of the digital marketing channels that brick and mortar shops have been relying on for the past few years.

Pokémon Go users are spending more time in virtual reality than on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, according to SimilarWeb.

The thing with overnight hype is that it can eventually fizzle out. Retailers should capitalize the Pokémon Go trend before it becomes a phase that nostalgic adults claim they played for a month or so.

A version of this appeared in Reuters on July 13. Read the full version here.

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