Vende Buzz: Pokémon Go for business you say? Gotta catch ’em all

by Ray Larson
  |  July 14, 2016  |  
July 14, 2016

pokemon-goUnless you haven’t been out in public in the last week or so, you have probably seen a lot of odd behavior – more than usual anyway.  Seemingly lost wandering, slightly paranoid glances, intense study of the smartphone screen, with random swiping at invisible objects…zombie virus?  No – Pokémon Go.  What does that have to do with your business?  Trust us, we’ll get to it in just a sec.

Brand-spanking-new video game, Pokémon Go is the latest craze…and by craze, we mean millions of people are playing it.  Crazy right?  You probably thought Pokémon was ancient history (it has been a couple of decades).  Surprise…it’s back.  Pokémon Go is a new video game that has spread like a virulent infection.  It was released in the U.S. on July 5th – and in only 6 days, already boasts more than 21 million active users – surpassing the number of active Twitter users.  Facebook time may also be taking a hit as people playing it are spending 33 minutes a day, more than the 22 minutes spent on Facebook.

So – what is it…and why is it such a big deal.

It is a smartphone-based video game developed by the Pokémon creator, available through both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.  If you didn’t know, Pokémon is loosely based on insect hunting – you know, what kids used to do before video games.  Pokémon Go takes Pokémon off of the video console, onto the smartphone – and outside.

Players look for different Pokémon characters and other stuff at different locations, called Pokéstops – on a real-time location-based map.  Using their smartphone…they throw a Pokéball to “catch” the Pokémon which is projected….blah, blah, blah.  Virtual reality blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, if you want to figure it out – download it – or better yet, just ask a player.  You can find tons of them just wandering around – a lot of them are teens, but a good number are millennials and up who are nostalgic for the series.  Critical evaluations of the game say that it isn’t all that great – technically speaking – but it fits right in to the ADHD, smartphone life and it is making billions for Nintendo whose stock has shot up by over 50%.

Pokémon Go is so engrossing, police departments have issued safety warnings about the game, reminding players to be aware of their surroundings. Several players have been reported to be the target of robberies but the upside is that one player stumbled onto the dead body of a crime victim (unrelated to the game).  Even though Pokémon Go cannot be played when traveling faster about 12mph, there is also some concern about DWP (driving while Pokéballin….we made that up).  Some have even suggested that Uber should be offering free rides to Pokémon Go players.

So – what does virtual reality insect hunting have to do with you and your business?  Well, interestingly, these Pokémon characters, Pokéballs and Easter eggs can be “lured” to Pokéstops….and businesses can buy those lures for nearby Pokéstops– which means more Poké-stuff will appear close to that business…which means that those players will also show up.

Lures last for 30 minutes, cost about $100 and can be purchased singly or in sets of eight.

Find out how to get Pokélures at Forbes

What’s the point?

Well, aside from the fact that you can lure a bunch of zombies close to your business….seriously, more traffic means more potential sales.  They aren’t always zombies and if they catch one of those Pokéthings that you lured…they’ll probably look up and see you – it’s your job to get them in the door once they are on site.

Pokémon players also form teams, train and battle for training spots or Gyms….blah, blah, blah…virtual reality insect hunting.  You can offer discounts or specials to winning teams (or losers if you prefer) which may entice them to frequent your business in groups and stick around.

Apparently, they can be a nuisance if not wanted, but having a Gym or Pokéstop right at your front door might be great – you just can’t buy one yet.  Reportedly, there is a Gym at the White House…and another at some, random guy’s house but it is likely that locations will be available for sale in the future.  (To be fair, the White House had to have given permission for their Gym – and the guy’s house is really an old church that he converted…so it once was a public landmark.)

Lastly, not surprisingly, user data is being collected by Google and even iOS players have to use a Google account to sign on so they are getting all of it.  There has been some concern over privacy issues as the app requires a lot of “permissions” and no one is sure what they are using the data for.…but it is hard to imagine that Google won’t use it for location based advertising targeting.

Somehow – this might make it more important for you to get those players from the Pokéstop into your business.

Googling “Pokémon Go” will keep you reading all day so have a chat with that kid you know.  Unless you get it, you may not get it and you might need to.

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