Living under a rock as I do in a New England farm town, I was blissfully unaware of the Pokémon pandemonium until my teenage niece and her boyfriend came to visit last weekend. That’s when I learned that nearby churches, shops, and parks were harboring weird creatures that only they with their iPhone apps could see.
Though I’m the only person in my niece’s social sphere not obsessed with hunting for Pokémon, a survey this week assured me that you might be as oblivious as me (if so, you can get a clue here).
Manta, a platform that helps small businesses get found online, polled 900 business owners in its community about the new game app. Just 16 percent said they play Pokémon GO, and only 17 percent said they’d be interested in playing to make their business a sponsored location with the Pokémon GO app. Nearly a quarter would be willing to offer in-store promotions to Pokémon GO users as a way to boost business, but only 12 percent would consider playing to earn digital pop-up ads.
Let’s face it, that’s a lot of business owners who might be skipping an easy opportunity to generate revenue from millennial consumers. Two weeks ago Recode estimated that 9.5 million people were playing Pokémon GO daily. This week, another estimate more than doubled that number.
Marketing strategist Kerry O'Shea Gorgone, who offers “tips for riding the Pokémon GO train to money town,” calls the craze a “gold-plated opportunity” for brick and mortar businesses to drive foot traffic by investing about $1 an hour. And Inc.’s Walter Chen has advice for how small local businesses can ring up “insane amounts of sales” with a Pokémon strategy.
An online search of news about “ Pokémon and Small Business” reveals the ways some early adopters around the world are luring in customers by the mecha-load. Venture Beat reports that a New York City pizzeria upped weekend business 30 percent after it spent $10 on Pokémon lures; one enterprising youngster paid for lures to draw players to his lemonade stand; and others attract customers by offering gift cards to players who snap photos of Pokémon in their stores or by merely joining the conversation on social media.
Some businesses have just gotten lucky. PokéStops and gyms in their vicinity increase visitors at all hours. In an Australia beach town, the discovery of some “rare” Pokémon creatures drove hoards of hungry hunters into a fish and chips shop for sustenance outside its usual rush hour.
The Pokémon advice for small business owners from a techie at ComputerWorld? “ If you’re considering how to capitalize on Pokémon GO, I’d strongly suggest playing it.”Follow Adrienne Jane Burke at @adajane