If you’ve been outside anytime over the last several weeks, you may have encountered large groups of individuals marching in the same direction in seemingly random locations while staring downward. No, this isn’t the zombie apocalypse. What you’re seeing is actually a group of gamers playing Pokémon Go on their smartphones.
For those who may not be familiar, here’s a quick primer: Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that essentially juxtaposes digital creatures over real-world backgrounds. Looking through their smartphone’s camera, players are able to catch all sorts of Pokémon—like Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Pikachu—by battling them on their mobile devices.
Look at the sidewalk with your eyes, and you’ll see the sidewalk. Look at the sidewalk through your mobile device, and you might see a menacing Blastoise staring right back at you.
Since its release in early July, Pokémon Go has captivated gamers around the globe—including 65 million players in the United States. Already, the game has nearly doubled Nintendo’s market cap (at the time of this writing).
Video game enthusiasts and Nintendo shareholders, however, aren’t the only ones who are benefiting from the game’s release. Because Pokémon Go players have to actually interact with the real world, small business owners with conveniently located stores have seen foot traffic—and therefore sales—tick up tremendously.
Here’s how it works: In the game, there are PokéStops, where players can get free virtual supplies and hunt Pokémon, and Gyms, where team tournaments take place. All of these spots correspond with real-world locations that players continuously go to—much to the delight of nearby businesses, which experience increased traffic. According to the CEO of GameStop, sales were up 100% in stores that were near these locations. Not too shabby.
Want to leverage Pokémon Go to grow your own business similarly? Here’s what you have to do:
Find the nearest PokéStops and Gyms
First things first: To capitalize on Pokémon Go, you need to become familiar with the game. Figure out where the closest Gyms and PokéStops are around your store. Once you know where players are likely to show up, you can plot your next move.
Spend money on Lures
Have a little bit of money in your marketing budget? You may want to buy some Lures in the game, which attract scarce Pokémon—and, by extension, players, too. According to Inc., if you spend $100 on Lures, it’ll cost you $1.19/hour to attract gamers. Here’s how effective they can be: One New York City pizzeria witnessed a 75% uptick in sales after spending just $10. Talk about ROI.
Mobilize your business for Pokémon Go
You don’t have to wait for players to come to you. Figure out where nearby PokéStops and Gyms are, and go there if you can. This option works well for businesses in the food and drink industry (e.g., an ice cream truck parking next to a Gym).
Be on the lookout for sponsored opportunities
If your store isn’t near a PokéStop or a Gym, you’re not completely out of luck. Niantic, the company that makes the game for Nintendo, has already announced it will eventually allow marketers and business owners to pay to become locations players flock to. Keep your eyes open and immediately hop on the opportunity when it presents itself.
From a business perspective, Pokémon Go is arguably the first app that shows the true financial promise of augmented reality. Apps, however, are incredibly trendy. Though it’s insanely popular today, the game may fall out of favor tomorrow (or at least next year). The sooner you hop on the Pokémon Go bandwagon, the more likely you’ll be to cash in on its popularity.
Who knows? As an added bonus, you may even enjoy playing the game. Good luck!