By Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso
While driving around, have you noticed more people outside standing in parks or on the street staring at their phones? The latest phenomenon, Pokémon Go, is creating a lot of buzz in the news right now as thousands of people of all ages are becoming obsessed with playing this augmented reality game 24/7. Pokémon Go takes the popular 90’s franchise into the 21st century by allowing users to catch digital Pokémon in “real life” using their mobile devices, as opposed to trading cards or using a handheld video game console.
The app uses a player’s GPS and clock in an Android or iOS smartphone to decide which Pokémon appear in the game. When the creature appears on the map, players have the option to tap on it. Once they do, Pokémon Go will open the camera to catch the Pokémon. The game launched July 6, 2016 and has already garnered an estimated $14.04 million in revenue, according to SuperData Research.
Advertisers and marketers are already beginning to explore how to capitalize on this momentum by using lure modules on a “Pokéstop” in the game to attract more users to a certain area, such as a store location, so that there are more Pokémon to catch.
This brings up an interesting topic about how augmented reality games, or the general concept, can be applied to other industries. It is no secret that game-like environments can peak a consumer’s interest, therefore, bringing the game inside brick and mortar retail stores could increase foot traffic, sales and brand engagement.
Consider the possibilities with us.
Many retailers use branded apps or multi-branded apps to increase consumer engagement. Traditionally, these apps have several capabilities consumers can use while on their shopping journey, such as tracking loyalty points, searching for digital coupons, viewing previous purchases and preferences, developing lists and even looking up competitors’ prices.
However, the concept of Pokémon Go could be applied within the app as well. For example, a shopper could open his app when walking into the store and be entered into a game-like environment on his screen. He could view special deals or coupons only available within the app that correlate with products on his shopping list hidden throughout the store. Then, as he walked the aisles to capture the discounts, other coupons could appear, which could spur impulse buys. He may not have planned on buying a new pair of shoes, but the two-for-one deal that he caught is too good to pass up.
The game could also lead him to other areas of the store that he was not planning on visiting. Similar to how Pokémon Go has creatures hidden throughout, extra bonuses or major perks could be strategically placed in less frequented areas of the store to drive additional impulse buys.
To add another engagement element to the game, shoppers could interact with one another in store or post about their experience on social media to catch additional special offers or prizes. The possibilities of what a retailer could create in an augmented reality concept to engage consumers are endless.
While Pokémon Go is the first augmented reality game to hit the mainstream media, it is not the first of its kind. Niantic, the Google startup that developed Pokémon Go, launched a previous game called Ingress in 2013 that turns our world into an intergalactic battlefield. It was not as successful as Pokémon Go but still a profitable venture for Google.
Pokémon Go’s popularity also shows how success is sometimes not necessarily tied to the platform as much as it is in the concept. Niantic picked the perfect franchise for an augmented reality game as Pokémon Go is a collecting game that attracts both the mobile-gaming youth and the nostalgic adults. Those who watched Pokémon back in the day dreamed of Pokémon in the real world and this game makes it a reality.
As with any new trend, it is only a matter of time until other gaming companies and industries try to create similar hype and a successful game. So 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.
What do you think of a Pokémon Go concept for retailers? Share your thoughts with us and tell us if you think consumers would “catch ‘em all” inside a store.
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.