Love it or hate it, one week on from its launch, the new Pokémon Go app hype is still going strong, having quickly gotten its claws into millions of people worldwide. The nostalgia-meets-new age app brings the nineties favourite into a location-based augmented reality world in a customised version of Google Maps that requires players to go out into the real world to ‘catch ‘em all’.
Among polarising views on the game, it has been credited for getting people of all ages – not just tech-savvy millennials who grew up with the original Pokémon on the Nintendo Gameboy - to be more active, get out into their own towns and cities and explore places they’ve never been before – burning calories as they do so!
So, its little surprise that brands and retailers have jumped on the back of this success and are using Pokémon Go as a marketing tool to drive footflow of consumers straight to them. The locations of key points in the game are linked to real world locations – things like monuments, shopping high streets, and tourist spots. But as well as the points of interest to gamers, retailers have also caught onto the additional ‘Lure Module’ which does what it says on the tin – lures Pokémon to a specified location for 30 minutes in exchange for a small fee. Restaurants and shops have jumped straight on it, and in a lot of cases once players took to Twitter to share their finds, the free word of mouth did the rest - hey presto! You’ve got a shop full of paying customers, albeit phone in hand, delivered straight to your door and ready to camp out for a significant amount of time (and purchase from you while they do).
CNBC news reported L’inizio Pizza Bar in New York City raised business by 75% doing just that. French furniture retailer But went one step further and rolled out a competition across its 200 stores, producing a low budget video that invited players to catch Pokémon in-store in exchange for vouchers and discounts – of their 200 stores, only nine failed to attract any gamers.
Virtual reality itself is already starting to play a huge part in advertising to give customers a more immersive experience with brands and products. Virgin Media recently raced ahead of competitors by incorporating 360-degree virtual reality into its adverts and in-store marketing. Virtual reality headsets were available in 20 stores and the online advert absorbed viewers into a virtual house party with various interactions with the brand. Virgin Media’s content marketing aims to set them apart from the likes of Sky and BT, but other huge brands like Audi, Thomas Cook and Tommy Hilfiger have all also invested in virtual reality technology.
So, although the Pokémon Go app might be a fad for retailers to exploit while they ride on the back of the wave of popularity – and why not?! – expect to see immersive customer experiences from virtual reality and geo-targeting filter through to the marketing campaigns from the masses – that’s the (virtual) world we’re living in now, folks!
Bet you thought you would find the Pikachu on this page didn't you?! That would be too easy! Keep looking...