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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : July 13, 2016

What does Pokémon Go really mean for retailers?

Can retailers cash in on the latest mobile game fad, Pokémon Go? Nikki Baird, managing partner of Retail Systems Research believes so and it just takes a little imagination and some inside knowledge.

by Helen Leggatt

Pokémon Go. It's in the news, and probably on your street. People of all ages are racking up the miles and, in some cases, ending up in the emergency department, but there's little doubt that the mobile game has caught the imagination of nations.

I must say, I didn't expect to be writing an article in a business publication about it but Nikki Baird's take on the game caught my eye. Nikki asks, "what does Pokémon Go really mean for retailers?".

The answer - quite a lot - more so with a bit of imagination and some insight into what powers the players. Plus, the game can give retailers ideas they can use to boost their own customer engagement.

First off, your average static display probably isn't going to register with those players who are either staring at their mobile screens or staring at other players staring at their mobile screens. So, a little bit of ingenuity is needed to stop players, or 'trainers' as they are called to those in the know, in their (often speedy) tracks. (That said, an eatery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has had much success with their sign offering a specific Pokémon Go team discounts).

Short of parking a PokéStop in front of a retail outlet, Nikki suggests a more personal touch - having someone stand outside a store with a sign handing out bottle water to tired players. Nikki goes one step further. A store's sign-holder could approach players. ""Hey, if you're a member, you can come inside and get a free water, ice cold. Oh, you're not a member? It's really easy to join. If you like gaming, you'll love what we have."

Neat, huh?

Another way to attract, and even impress, Pokémon Go players is to wheedle your way into their tribe using giveaways that "acknowledges only the people 'in the know' about the app or visibly using the app". By so doing "you're tapping into part of what makes the game so attractive - being one of droves of people who are partaking in a not-so-secret but still 'special' community activity," says Nikki.

There are many ways to 'lure' gamers to a store location. How about a 'lure party'? After downloading the Pokémon Go app, and creating an account, buy a package of lure modules for just a few dollars and set them up at the PokéStop nearest to your store. Using the lures in succession (each one lasts 30 minutes) can create an event that could be boosted by a special offer.

Whether Pokémon Go will be just a flash in the pan is neither here nor there. Those retailers, such as Sephora, who are reportedly not embracing the additional foot traffic may get burned for their lack of hospitality. Sure, their influx of visitors may not all be buying right now as they chase imaginary friends around the store, but, as Nikki wisely points out, "Acknowledge that community, and delight them, so that when their phone batteries are dead, maybe they'll come back and give you a real shot."

Tags: gamification, marketing, mobile, Pokémon Go, retail

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