Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Pokeballs. Magikarp. Lures. Ash Catchem. You might be asking: “What are these things and why should I care about them? I’m not one of those darn Millennials, this doesn’t apply to my business.”

You should care about Pokemon Go and the implications that augmented reality games (AR) will have on local business now and into the future, especially for local retail and restaurant establishments. I’ll explain why, but first, a little background.

What is Pokemon Go?

Launched in July 2016, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality (AR) smartphone app. It integrates the real world with virtual reality using your location and puts characters (Pokemon) in various locations for you to catch using your smartphone camera. Once you catch them, you can face off against other people (virtually – real life battles are frowned upon) to battle your Pokemon against each other at predetermined locations called Gyms.


Left to right: (L) An example of what the map looks like, a closeup of a character in front of a blue Pokestop, (Middle) a pokemon (that turtle-looking thing) and a red Pokemon Gym, and (R) an example of augmented reality: a Pokemon character overlaid on your camera.


Pokemon Go averages 21 million daily users who spend 45 minutes per day using the game. 4-5 million people are downloading it daily, and 7 of 10 return to it the day after downloading (typical game retention is 3 of 10).

How to get your business involved:

You can harness the different aspects of Pokemon Go in creative ways to attract people to your business, whether you’re retail, a restaurant, a hotel, or even an adventure tour/attraction. Here are a couple of ideas for you to try.

Purchase a “lure” to attract people to your business:

A lure is an item that any player can buy within the game, which attracts Pokemon to the area around the lure for 30 minutes. As a business, you can buy lures and place them at your store, attracting Pokemon, and thus people who want to catch ’em. Kids not old enough to roam unaccompanied bring their parents with them, and mom or dad might need a caffeine boost or a shopping boost to make the trip fun for them too.

A lure can cost as little as $1.19 per hour. Try it out, for a few bucks in a day, you could see quick increases in sales:

This technique has already raised the number of paying customers to small businesses to a level unseen in the history of smartphone apps. For example, my buddies at L’inizio Pizza Bar in New York City made it on @CNBC when over the last weekend they raised business by 75% using Lure Modules – Brian Rommelle, Forbes via Quora


Setup a promotion at a Pokestop:

Is there a lure near your business? Setup a promotion focused on Pokemon Go users to further attract people into your business. For example: “Today only! Take a screen shot of the Joe Juneau PokeStop and get 20% off your next purchase at Travel Juneau Coffee”

Setup a Pokemon tour / hunt event:

Kind of like a pub crawl, but substitute beer for Pokemon! Invite people to join you walking around town, and at the end offer a coupon to participants. Work with your neighbor businesses, local organizations (like Travel Juneau, Downtown Business Association, Rotary, etc) and setup something fun to get people walking around your neighborhood.

Coming Soon: Paid Advertising

Niantic (the company that owns Pokemon Go) has announced that it will soon have paid advertising available on the platform. This might include sponsored locations or even free items such as Pokeballs promoted by a company.

“The best idea since sliced bread:” Share It!

Even sliced bread wasn’t popular until they started marketing it the right way. Share your promotions and your lures on social media. I put a lure across from our office to test it out and shared in on our Twitter feed.

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