When Pokemon Go launched in July 2016, it simultaneously did two things—brought augmented reality (AR) to the masses, and proved it could make money while doing so. In fact, it quickly became the biggest mobile game in US history.
But, all that popularity came with a price. Because the game uses GPS coordinates and real-life landmarks, players were turning up at places like the Holocaust Museum and Auschwitz, just to catch Pokemon. Also, the game has also been used to lure players into secluded areas where they can be robbed.
However, the game is bringing a lot of people together and encouraging many folks to exercise as part of hatching eggs they catch in the game. Not only that, it's also making an estimated $1.6 million per day for the companies involved.
Yes, you read that correctly—$1.6 million per day. But, your business could make money off of Pokemon Go, too. You need to start by understanding the game.
Understanding the game
As noted, Pokemon Go is a mobile game that uses AR to blend the Pokemon world with the real world. Players see a digital map that (mostly) matches up to the real one, where they walk around looking for Pokemon to catch, items to collect, and other players to battle with in Pokemon Gyms. While the game is popular with the 18-34 age bracket, it goes beyond the nostalgia of the people who grew up playing the original game in the mid-1990s.
"Every demographic, psychographic, age, gender, nationality, race...lots of different kinds of people are playing it," said Brian Wallace of NowSourcing.
In the game, there are two major locations types—PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms. A PokeStop is where players go to stock up on items they need to catch Pokemon, heal them, or even collect rare eggs that will hatch into Pokemon after the player walks a certain distance. Gyms are where players go to do battle, and are controlled by one player at a time. Each player eventually joins one of three factions: Team Mystic (blue), Team Instinct (yellow), and Team Valor (red). We will get to why that matters later on.
The most important items in the game are Pokeballs and Lures. Pokeballs are necessary for players to actually catch the Pokemon, and Lures attract more Pokemon to an area where players can catch them. Both items can be obtained at a PokeStop.
Understanding your location
Since Pokemon Go relies on actual, real-life geography, businesses that thrive off of foot traffic are going to benefit the most from the game. Retail shops, restaurants, and bars are obvious candidates, but keep in mind that players could be of any background, and young players may have their parents with them. So, real estate agents, marketing firms, dentist offices, or real-life Gyms could benefit from meeting more potential clients as well.
If a player wants to engage a PokeStop or Gym, he or she has to be within a certain range of that location. And, it's often very close proximity, which means that players will need to basically be at the front door of a business that is one.
"If you're a business and you're near, or are, a PokeStop and a Gym, you're going to constantly get a flood of people," Wallace said.
If your business is a PokeStop
Okay, so being designated in the game as a Gym or PokeStop already is basically a luck-of-the-draw situation. But if you're lucky enough that your storefront is a PokeStop, you can improve your situation further. By purchasing and using Lure modules, you can increase the number of Pokemon at your PokeStop and potentially get more customers in your business.
SEE: How to remove your business location from Pokemon Go (TechRepublic)
An Inc. article did the math and figured out that you can run Lures at your business for $1.19 an hour. Players will be able to see when a Lure module has been dropped in the game, but it's also a good idea to let people know on social media and plan other promotions in tandem. Wallace gave the example: "Join us for happy hour, from 5:00 to 5:30 we're going to throw out a Pokemon Lure, we're going to have 10% off specials."
Additionally, if your place of business is a PokeStop or Gym, be sure to list that on all your social media page. Yelp has also been listing which businesses are locations in the game, so it may be worth it to see if they have yours listed as well.
If your business is a Pokemon Gym
Lures don't work at Pokemon Gyms, but there is an additional layer of competitiveness that can be taken advantage of. Each Gym is controlled by one of the three factions mentioned earlier at a given time. One option is to offer specific discounts or promotions to members of the controlling faction, or even encourage players of other factions to try to overtake control of the Gym at a certain time for a bigger discount. A company called Anime Imports took advantage of this very well:
Another way you can capitalize on your location being a Gym, or even a Gym being nearby, is to give out specific gifts or prizes to players who battle in the Gym. Inc. recommended purchasing custom badges as one option. A coffee shop I recently visited had custom drinks made up for each faction, with the ruling team's drink discounted.
If your business is neither
If your business or storefront isn't a PokeStop or Gym, you can submit a form with developer Niantic to become one. In the meantime, though, there are a few other things you can do.
For starters, you can advertise what Pokemon have been caught in the area around your business. Pokemon rarity seems to be geographically-based, but there are some unofficial rarity charts that you can refer to. Also, ask your clients or customers to post screenshots of Pokemon they have caught to your Facebook for a coupon, or use apps like Poke Radar to see what other people have been catching in your area.
Finally, if your business is at all portable, go out to where the Pokemon are. Get custom "Pokemon Master" shirts made up with your logo on the back and give them out at the closest Gym, or partner with local Gyms and PokeStops on joint promotions.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Pokemon Go is taking the world by storm, and there are a few different ways that businesses can take advantage of the trend to drive foot traffic and make money.
- Once you understand if your location is a Gym or PokeStop, make sure you market that fact to potential customers and engage the players by using Lures or offering special promotions.
- Even if your business isn't a PokeStop or Gym, you can still engage the Pokemon Go community by partnering with Gyms or going to where PokeStops are and meeting players.
- Pokemon Go eating up your data plan? Track all your usage with newly free iOS app DataMan Next (TechRepublic)
- Pokémon Go may have full access to your Google account (ZDNet)
- Pokémon Go Is a Government Surveillance Psyop Conspiracy (Black Bag)
- Here's How to Request New Pokemon Go PokeStops and Gyms (GameSpot)
- Apple to Pokemon Go: Thanks for the extra $3 billion? (CNET)
- Police use Pokémon Go as a lure to catch criminals (ZDNet)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.