Pokémon Go: How to Capture the Business Opportunity Pt. 2

Welcome to the second installment of our Pokémon Go blog series. I covered what the game is, how it works, and why its popularity is significant in Part 1. Catch up here if you missed it.

Today, I’ll be talking about how to capture the business opportunity behind Pokémon Go and evolve your augmented reality marketing strategy (Is there such a thing as too many Pokémon puns?). Marketers incorporate popular culture into their content and promotional strategies all the time; even if it does resonate with customers, it’s still difficult to know, let alone prove, what drove a customer into a store. That’s why Pokémon Go is different. Even if businesses’ sole Pokémon Go goal is to drive profit from the craze, they still have an opportunity to deliver real value to players in return. There exists a recognized level of transparency, of mutual benefit, between businesses and players, and perhaps even a stab of appreciation for each business that “gets it.” This value is enabled by the location-based, augmented reality components of the game–they make real world settings relevant to enhancing gameplay.

pokemon abra

If your business is within radius of a Pokéstop or a gym, you’re in luck. You’ll be able to capitalize on both the location-dependent and creative marketing strategies presented below. If your business isn’t, there are still ways for you to attract wild Pokémon trainers to your shop (and a clever location-based workaround to try).

Location-Based Marketing Strategies for a Business in Close Proximity to a Pokéstop or Gym

Embrace the Pokémon Go Al-lure

I’ll get straight to the point: this is, objectively, the most valuable marketing approach you can take to the game. However, it is only available to businesses within close proximity to a Pokéstop. Even gyms are excluded from this one.

There is an in-game item called a Lure Module which, when deposited at a Pokéstop, attracts an influx of Pokémon within the radius of that Pokéstop for a duration of 30 minutes. While you can earn Lure Modules through game-play, the impatient, commercially-motivated, or true Poké addicts can purchase them within the in-game store at will (with real money). If your business buys 48 Lure Modules, enough to attract Pokémon to your Pokéstop for 24 hours, the cost breaks down to an affordable $1.20 an hour. It’s a good deal.

Trainers can tell when a Lure Module is active at a Pokéstop by the petals sprinkling down within its radius. When you activate a Lure Module near your business, trainers who are exploring nearby will likely venture over to it. However, these passer-bys have no way of knowing how much active time is left in the lure’s 30 minute duration, or if another will be activated afterward. That’s where advertising comes in.

pokemon go map
The above screenshot demonstrates the appearance of Pokéstops containing active Lure Modules–distinguished by a radius of cascading petals.


Let your customers know in advance that you will be activating a Lure Module for 24 hours on a certain date. Send an email to your local email marketing list, post it on your social networks, and put a sign or chalkboard outside of your store. The success of your 24 hour Lure Module campaign will depend on how densely populated the area around your store is, how well you promote your campaign, and how creative you can get. You can base your entire campaign around the 24-hour activation of a Lure Module and its promotion, or you can lay this as the foundation of a more evolved campaign (the Poké puns never get old) with multiple layers. To accomplish this, run one of the below strategies simultaneously with your Lure Module marathon.

Provide Support for Weary Gym Contenders

If your business is within the radius of a Pokémon Gym, let trainers know they are invited into your shop while they battle. Winning control of a gym is tough work. Consider offering a discount, deal, or special to contenders, members of the current team that’s controlling the gym (Blue, Red, or Yellow), or the specific trainers who currently control the gym. On top of personal pride and bragging rights, trainers may be motivated to gain access to your business’ offer. While you can’t deposit a Lure Module at a gym, you can still advertise its proximity to your business and the Pokémon-friendly nature of your establishment.

pokemon drowzee
Donut miss the opportunity to reward weary trainers with discounts and specials!

Creative Marketing Strategies for Poké-Deprived Commercial Entities

Let People Know what Pokémon are Around Your Shop

Did you spot a rare Pokémon close to your shop? Let your customers know. Even if your business is surrounded by common Pokémon, you can still generate some humorous material: “Our shop is surrounded by weak Pidgeys, but our cold brew is strong enough to fuel your Pokémon dreams.” You get the idea. Make sure to brand whatever signage or content you create–Poké-fans are likely to share it with their friends and you can build brand awareness as they do.

pokemon jigglypuff
A wild Jigglypuff looks around in dismay at the throngs of trainers who attended the Boston Poké-walk on 7/23/16 in the Common.

If somebody tells you there was a rare Pokémon around your store, don’t advertise it without verification. No matter what you do, don’t lie about the presence of a rare Pokémon. Do you remember the mutually beneficial relationship between businesses and trainers I was talking about earlier? This is how you shatter it. Don’t do it.

Run a Competition or Create an Incentive

Put traditional marketing strategies within the context of Pokémon Go. Stage a contest among your customers for who can publicly post the best screenshot of a Pokémon inside or in front of your store. Designate a specific hashtag for them to include in their post and have them tag your business’ social handle. Offer a discount or special to all entrants and make sure to advertise your contest. Not only will you draw in dedicated Pokémon fans, but they’ll create awesome content for your brand.

Additionally, offer an incentive for trainers to fulfill in exchange for an offer. “Show us your Pikachu and get 10% off.” “Get a free side with your sandwich if you’re above level X.” I’m sure you can come up with something creative and relevant to your products or service.

pokemon pikachu

If You Can’t Bring a PokéStop to Your Business, Take Your Business to a Pokéstop

This is the location-based workaround I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. If your business wasn’t blessed with a Pokéstop in front of it, you can host a pop-up shop in proximity to one. Make sure to gain all legal permissions necessary to do so. Setting up a pop-up shop in someone’s yard will only attract law enforcement.

pokemon go egg hatching
Hatch a plan to sell your goods near a Pokéstop.

Become a guest vendor at a Farmer’s Market or festival that is located near a Pokéstop. Team up with a local business within radius of a Pokéstop and sell outside or within their store. Your imagination has no limits beyond those imposed by the law.

Be Creative, and Just Have Fun with It

whole foods pokemon go promotion

This donut shop in NYC is selling Pokéball donuts. Ride-sharing service Lyft is offering a discount on rides to a Pokéstop. Local Whole Foods Stores are offering players a $2 coupon to use at the prepared foods bar. No matter what strategy you decide upon, make it relevant to your business, beneficial for trainers, and well-known through promotion. By requiring customers to showcase their Pokémon, in-game screenshots, trainer identity, etc. to secure a deal, you can tie sales back to your Pokémon Promotion and calculate your campaign’s ROI. Don’t forget that you can apply these strategic concepts to location-based, augmented reality games of the future.

pokemon go lyft promotion

I hope these ideas inspire you to put a Pokémon Go marketing strategy into action–and fast. Don’t forget to enjoy the game on a personal level too. If there’s a Pokéstop close to your residence, activate a Lure Module for four hours and invite some friends over for a BBQ, or have that yard sale you’ve been putting off for two years. The Poké-world is your Cloyster.

Natalie Cullings
Marketing Analyst
You can follow Natalie on Twitter at @NatalieCullings


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