How To Capitalize on the Pokémon GO Craze



By now, you’ve seen it almost everywhere. You’ve seen the groups of kids and adults walking around town with their phones out and heads down. Pokémon GO is the latest smart phone fad – a game that requires people to actually roam around the town to play. It took less than two weeks for it to become a more popular app than Twitter. With its popularity, it has also universally given stores an unprecedented opportunity to cash in on the fad. The popularity of this game has people out in droves. It has created an increase in foot traffic just about everywhere. It is also creating an entirely new potential for impulse purchases.


For those that are unfamiliar with the game play, in Pokémon GO, you are a Pokémon Trainer. You have to find and catch Pokémon first in order to later train them. You must wander in the game in order to find and catch the Pokémon. This is NOT a game that can be played in the home. This game can only be played by physically moving in real life. The map in the game is the same map you’d see in Google Maps. Scattered through the map are places to gather supplies and train the Pokémon you have found, as well as the Pokémon that you are on the hunt to find and catch. As mentioned, the only way to get to these places on the map in the game is to physically travel to that place in real life.

So How Can You Capitalize on the Pokémon GO?

The first step is to figure out which virtual items, if any, are around your store in the game. This is as simple as opening the app. There are some objects in the game that, by design, will attract players in droves to locations, namely PokéStops and Gyms (various locations in the real world that are characterized as large towers in the Map View). There is a good chance that one of your employees is playing the game already and can see what is nearby.


See If You Have a PokéStop Nearby

PokéStops are where the players of the game go to recharge and collect more supplies. If you are fortunate enough to have a PokéStop adjacent to your store, players of the game are already going to be coming your way to visit the PokéStop. PokéStops are often monuments, statues, plaques, and noteworthy places around town (as a side note, PokéStops are also a great way to learn a little bit about your town).

See If You Have a Gym Nearby

Gyms are where players go to train and battle their Pokémon. Gyms are much less common than PokéStops. If you have a Gym adjacent to your store, you are very lucky, as even more people will come your way to take advantage of the features of the game only available at Gyms. Gyms are often found by churches and parks.

If you don’t have a PokéStop or a Gym near your store, you are not out of luck. There is still another way to get people to pass by your store…

Plant Lures to Bring the Pokémon – and Players – Your Way

If you don’t have a PokéStop or a Gym nearby, you can still take advantage of a different feature of the game to get players of the game to come to your store. Lures can be used to attract Pokémon to a specific location (in this case, a store). Players are going to go to where the Pokémon are. Lures are an in-game purchase that a store can virtually plant in the parking lot. As the Pokémon in the area in the game start to migrate towards the lure, so, too, will the players that are hunting them. Lures cost around $1.50 per hour to plant and requires the app to be installed, as lures must be purchased from the in-game store.

This unfriendly approach will only cost you potential customers.

This unfriendly approach will only cost you potential customers.

So now that players are passing by my store, what do I do?

Engage Customers Via Text Messaging

This is the perfect opportunity to engage your customers via text messaging. Players of the game are already on their phone, and out of their house wandering around. Given the popularity of the game, there is a good chance that a decent percentage of your text messaging subscriber base is playing Pokémon GO regularly. An example of a text alert could be, “You need to stay hydrated while you’re out catching Pokémon. Get 2 for 1 on Gatorade today.” or “While you’re out catching Pokémon today, stop by and get a free soda with your deli meal purchase.”


Engage Customers Via Social Media

This is the perfect opportunity to engage your customers via social media. It is the hype of social media that spread the popularity of the game so quickly. Players of the game are heavily connected with social media. Start posting offers that relate to the players of the game. If your posts are clever or worthwhile, it will get shared. An example of a social media post could be, “What level are you in Pokémon GO? Show us and receive that percentage off of your purchase.”

Don’t Forget to Play off the Team Rivalries

After reaching a certain level in the game every player gets to select one of three teams to join – Team Instinct (yellow), Team Mystic (blue), or Team Valor (red). If you want to really hype the rivalries, you can offer different percentages off of a purchase depending on which team a person has joined. Or in the interest of fairness, you can cycle through the days/teams – Monday, blue gets 15% off deli items, Tuesday, yellow gets 15% off, and so on. Another idea, going back to the idea of staying hydrated, while still playing off of teams, could be, “Which team are you? Get that color of Powerade for only 75¢.”

Plan an Entire Event

Last week, the Phoenix Zoo ran a week-long Pokémon GO event. By virtue of the game itself, there are already approximately 30 PokéStops within the zoo. But last week, the zoo promised to plant lures around the zoo. And to accommodate the intense heat in Phoenix, they opened an hour earlier than normal all week. They essentially guaranteed that people going to the zoo to play Pokémon GO were going to catch a lot of Pokémon, get a lot of supplies, and also see some zoo animals – Your event could be much less grandiose – start promoting now, via text messaging, social media, eblasts, website, etc. that you will be planting multiple lures all day Saturday and Sunday and offering any of the above-listed specials for the players of the game.

For more information on leveraging the popularity of Pokémon GO into sales and how other supermarkets are using Pokémon GO to engage their customers, check out Retailers join Pokemon Go craze from Supermarket News and Pokemon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses. Here’s How It Works from Inc.



All day, every day, people from every generation rely on their smartphones for many things, from sending text messages to family and friends to getting driving directions in Google Maps to joining retailer ‘texting clubs’ for saving money on basic necessities and favorite products. And there is no better example of the power of mobile engagement than Pokémon GO. This amusing game has the power to nudge kids and adults alike to get up and go, even to your store!

Here are some ideas for retail text marketing that you can use in your store.

  1. Bring customers back to your store by offering exclusive text deals. Example: Get 15% off your next purchase by showing this text to the cashier. PLU _ _ _ Exp. 8/31
  2. Share information about products and services via text alerts. Example: Our signature apple pie is back in our bakery through November. Save $2 by showing this text to our cashier. PLU _ _ _
  3. Make shopping fun for the entire family by planting lures to bring the Pokémon and Pokémon Trainers to your store. Send Pokémon-related text alerts. Example: Upload your photo of a Pokémon from Luken’s Market to our Facebook post. You may win a $25.00 gift card.
  4. Use text blasts to announce big sale events. Example: Our annual fall plant sale kicks off in one week! Mark your calendar and stop by for seasonal and holiday favorites.