Catch ’Em All!

Pokémon Go points to next steps in augmented reality for retailers.
by : 

Andrew Levi

July 22, 2016
Catch ’Em All!

It's been a few weeks since the Pokémon Go phenomenon began making headlines and motivating people to venture outside to “catch 'em all.” Over the past 20 years, the Pokémon franchise has taken many forms—trading cards, TV shows, video games, and now augmented reality. However, this most recent iteration of the game has been nothing short of revolutionary not only for the gaming world, but for other industries as well.

Pokémon Go launched on July 6 and has already garnered more than $14 million in revenue, according to SuperData Research. By using a player’s GPS and clock on an Android or iOS smartphone, the app decides which Pokémon appear in the game. Once visible, players can tap on the digital Pokémon, open the camera, and “catch” it, seemingly in real life.

But wait, what does this have to do with owning a retail store?

Augmented reality, although not new in concept, is fairly new in execution. As game and technology developers learn how to best deploy it to the masses, marketers, advertisers, and even retailers are taking notes on how to capitalize on the momentum and bring this innovation into their own realms of business.

Using the same technologies, retailers have the opportunity to create a similar game-like environment inside brick-and-mortar stores to attract customers. Here are a variety of ways retailers can benefit from the concept of Pokémon Go to drive foot traffic in their stores through their existing branded or multi-branded apps:

  1. Exchanging digital for tangible items. While walking through a mall, shopping center, or grocery store, shoppers could collect sale or discounted digital items to be traded for the equivalent tangible objects at the register. Items could include tops, shoes, accessories, and even food. Much like when a gamer collects a Pokémon along their intended route, the points, or discount, would not be disclosed until the item is “caught” and added to their library.
  2. Pokéstops for coupons. In the popular game, real-life landmarks are being frequented by visitors looking to collect advantageous tools to catch their Pokémon. In the same way, retailers could use their own locations as “pokéstops” for shoppers to collect rare or coveted coupons.
  3. Create a cart. Thanks to online shopping, consumers are already familiar with the concept of a virtual cart. Much like putting a Pokémon into the “pokédex” once it’s caught, shoppers would be able to house their collection of items and coupons in a cart, ready to be applied upon check out.

To add another level of customer engagement to the game, shoppers and retailers have the ability to connect with each other both in store and online through social media. From the retailer’s perspective, managers could post a screen shot of an exclusive coupon available to collect in store for a limited time. On the consumer side, shoppers have the opportunity to post similar content and share with their friends to receive additional discounts for engaging with the retailer’s social media accounts.

Lastly, one of the most notable aspects of Pokémon Go has been the user adaptation. Users across multiple generations have downloaded the app, proving the technology to be user-friendly for various ages. This creates a wide target audience for retailers to market to, making everyone from tweens and college students to grandparents potential users.

As with any new trend, it’s only a matter of time until other gaming companies and industries try to create similar hype with another successful game. Why not retailers, too? Especially given the popularity of online shopping, a game that allows consumers to have fun while also saving money and gaining special rewards can bring them inside the store, allowing retailers to also profit from increased in-store engagement.

Editor’s Note: Want tips on how to engage players of Pokémon Go? Check out these great articles in Forbes and Fortune magazines: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nikkibaird/2016/07/15/how-retailers-should-p... and http://fortune.com/2016/07/13/pokemon-go-ads/.


Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, an innovator and pioneer in the development and delivery of location-enabled mobile engagement solutions. Using its patented cloud-based platform, the Blue Calypso solutions elevate the consumer shopping experience through an engaging in-store mobile immersion, while capturing real-time shopper behavioral analytics for retailers and brands.