For some store merchants in the US, the new viral game Pokémon Go has literally driven people into stores purely to catch Pikachu or other characters.

The app’s ability to drive real-world foot traffic to certain locations is undeniable, something the majority of advertisements or even online stores cannot do. Some businesses in the US are leveraging a Poké presence to drive offline sales reports TechCrunch.

Pokemon Go

How does it work?

PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms are real-world locations that players visit to acquire collectibles pulled from the location database of Niantic’s original location-based AR game, Ingress. Locations are generated through user submissions, which means that anyone in the user community can apply to be added to the public database, after being vetted by Niantic. Brandon Badger, Niantic Product Manager, comments,

We hope to end up with a model where there could be a cost per-visit type model where large brands and small brands sponsor different elements of the game.

Business savvy store owners are using ‘lures’, an in-game item that turns any existing PokéStops into virtual feeding frenzy for players trying to catch Pokémon. However, this requires a PokéStop to be nearby so businesses are already looking to get Niantic to add one near their locations. As Nintendo has a history of striking offline partnerships, some people are already speculating that McDonalds, or a brand of that scale, would pay to have all their branches turned into Pokémon locations in order to draw in offline traffic.

When Pokémon Go finally comes to Southeast Asia, there will be opportunities for brands to leverage from, or drive offline consumer engagement using online locations. This trend is a chance for stores to convert online viewers into offline visitors.

Pokémon Go really is out to catch them all.

A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on July 12. Read the full version here.