Pokémon GO for Retailers: Turning Gamers into Customers

gr poke go retailersThroughout the last week, there have been so many questions about how brands can best capitalize on Pokémon GO, especially within retail locations that are seeing a sudden influx of gamers. Most want to know how to best engage these newfound visitors and create positive buzz (and potentially drive new business).

Here are a few best practices and personal recommendations for capturing the attention of the next Ash Ketchum (couldn’t resist) as the Pokémon GO phenomenon continues to consume every smartphone screen in its wake:

pokemon terms final

Best Practices for Brands:

  • Post screenshots of rare Pokémon captured at your retail location and promote using Pokémon hashtags to draw players and encourage engagement. Many retailers are receiving shout-outs online for the Pokémon residing there.
  • Update Yelp descriptions, Facebook Places and social channels to reflect relevant game-related offerings and proximate checkpoints.
  • Reward consumers with cool “dealer badges” (those were the original incentives for avid Pokémon players) for their catches; perhaps this is a Snapchat geo-filter (thank you Memories update) or Instagram filter.
  • Purchase and set lure modules to attract large groups of Pokémon to your retail location. This can help to proactively draw users to one physical location and away from areas where game-play should be discouraged. Lures can be set during strategic time frames to jump-start traffic during non-peak hours.
  • Though not currently available, the option for businesses to sponsor Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms is very near, according to several keen Redditors who suggest that sponsorships are already built into the game’s code. Sponsoring a game checkpoint will ensure traffic without the need to repeatedly set lure modules.
  • Utilize other location-based apps that incorporate push notifications or push alerts such as: RetailMeNot, Facebook Beacons, Apple Beacons, etc. These push notifications/alerts will pop up even for users who are in the Pokémon Go app.
  • Use social media to provide consumers with some type of surprise and delight digital incentive/coupon encouraging them to capture Pokémon, share content at your retail location and purchase merchandise.
  • Greet all players with enthusiasm, even those that don’t become paying customers. Several retailers have taken to posting signs informing customers that Pokémon are for paying customers only. Others have allegedly gone as far as kicking out customers who were there only to catch Pokémon. I recommend taking a much lighter approach.

Example of a Social Conversation:

(@Consumer: “This is awesome! I just caught a Pikachu in the sports aisle at [retailer]! (PHOTO)”)
(Retailer: “@Consumer Great catch! If you’re interested in exploring further, here’s a coupon to ‘evolve’ your gear in our electronics department. (DIGITAL COUPON CODE)”)

Things to Consider:

  • Proactively establish safe areas that are friendly to game activity. Consider providing Wi-Fi to visitors and using the network names, authentication and landing pages to demonstrate active participation from the retailer. This is a positive way to lay out Pokémon etiquette and is much better for your brand image than posting a sign banning the game on your store’s window.
  • Use social media to promote when people are welcome to come catch Pokémon and train them.
  • Communicate to management that while playing Pokémon GO is encouraged, they should be on the look out for safety hazards and any other concerns that require action to prevent ensure the well-being of players.

Kaitlin is currently working as a summer fellow on the issues and crisis management team within our New York office. As a Senior at the University of Utah studying strategic communications and computational media, she enjoys fast-paced problem-solving and creative design challenges. In her spare time, you can usually find her planning future travels, drinking bubble tea or binge watching home improvement shows.