Savvy retailers are trying to cash in on the popularity of Pokémon GO by purchasing Pokémon “lure modules” to attract many players into their businesses.
L'inizio's Pizza Bar in Queens, New York, was one of the first restaurants in the city to harness the potential business opportunity from the Pokémon Go craze. Soon after the wildly-popular augmented reality mobile game came out, owner Thomas Blaze Lattanzio went on the app and bought a 30-minute lure for less than a dollar. The impact was instant.
“We dropped the module here and people starting flocking — constant — the past five, six days,” said Lattanzio. “It's just been amazingly outrageous the amount of people coming in.”
Lattanzio said he spent a total of $110 in lure modules and six days later his transactions increased by 75 percent.
In less than a week, Pokémon GO accumulated roughly 21 million daily active users in the United States, making it the biggest mobile game in the country’s history. Businesses of all sizes are now trying to figure out how to use this market effectively, as players go on real world journeys to find the characters made famous by Nintendo in video and card games 20 years ago.
Some retailers and restaurants are offering discounts and coupons to Pokémon GO players. Others are offering gift cards to people who tweet a picture of a Pokémon in their business.
Marketing experts say this is just the beginning of a growing market trend. “Location-based services are rolling out and they're creating really robust platforms,” said Ari Zoldan, CEO of Quantum Media Group. “So a combination of that and what the industry is calling 'gamification' right now is creating opportunities for small businesses to be able to start marketing themselves really effectively.”
Many believe it's just a question of time before Niantic, the Pokémon GO's developer, starts creating special premium lure modules for retailers to buy. Niantic CEO John Hanke recently told the Financial Times in an interview that “sponsored locations” will be rolled out soon in Pokémon GO, providing a new revenue stream in addition to in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items.
Most gamers don't seem to mind being the subject of marketing lures, at least for now. Tara Kaminsky, a Pokémon Go player lured to L'inizio's Pizza Bar, said, “You have to go places anyway, so why wouldn't you mind having a lure outside a pizza place.”