How retail is harnessing the power of Pokémon Go

As Pokémon Go embeds into our mobile landscape – some even leaving their jobs to become pro Pokémon hunters (the power of nostalgia!) – how are retailers engaging with the phenomenon?

The practical, control-based side to the frenzy has boosted portable charger sales; the ‘real-life’ aspect of the game and Amazon’s demand-induced extended shipping times also giving bricks and mortar electronics stores chance to shine. RadioShack, Sprint and GameStop have furiously discounted chargers, alongside offering free charging points – Sprint even installing ‘Pokémon Go Experts’ across their 2000 US stores. Furthermore, phone companies 3 and T-Mobile, are ‘luring’ (geddit?) shoppers in with all-you-can-eat data to fuel the habit.

Across food and drink retailers, it’s hard to miss signs claiming there are Pokémon inside cafes/restaurants. Simply opening the game exposes local watering holes releasing Lures, the 79p attractor of Pokémon/players, which has seen resulting revenue boosts – in some pubs, releasing a Lure yourself equals a free drink! Food products also offer a more transient embodiment of the trend vs. physical merch – Pokémon-themed latte art, pizzas and donuts are quite literally feeding the hype. McDonald’s represents the first official tie-in to the game, with 3000 Japanese restaurants becoming gyms – signifying just the start? Alternatively, some establishments are reaching out to those ambivalent to the craze through cynicism!.

In larger format clothing and beauty stores like Forever 21, H&M and Sephora, increased footfall and copious snapping/sharing from players has been considered extra business and advertising. However, could the game’s super immersive nature be impacting conversion? As we see instances of teenage girls playing alongside Justin Bieber yet not even recognising him, it brings us to the question: are they really going to notice those cute shorts in the corner of Forever 21?

Our hunch is that retailers likely to benefit most are those pushing a sense of belonging – New Look inviting customers along to scheduled Lures, while River Island strikes an edgier note documenting the capture of ‘Packachu’ in spoof video RI Go!


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