Catch 'Em All: How Businesses Are Cashing in on the Pokémon Go Craze

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

As players traverse through town searching for pokemons, businesses have found a unique opportunity to boost their foot traffic.

More than 70 million people have downloaded the Pokémon Go app since its release in July 2016.

The augmented reality game has players roaming the streets, hoping to catch virtual creatures. Now, businesses are cashing in on the craze, and it’s paying off big time.

As players traverse through town searching for creatures, businesses have found a unique opportunity to boost their foot traffic.  

How Businesses Are Using Pokémon Go to Boost Sales

Some businesses are employing creative marketing strategies, while others are using “lures” to draw in players. Restaurants are enticing patrons by posting signs, alerting passersby that Pokémon can be found inside. Here’s how local businesses are taking advantage of the Pokémon craze to boost sales and traffic:

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Advertising Their Business as a PokeStop or Gym

Businesses lucky enough to be a PokeStop or Gym are taking advantage of their location by advertising these perks to customers. PokeStops are places that let players collect eggs or Poke Balls to capture more Pokémon, while Gyms are where players train their creatures and battle each other to take over as the leader.

Both Gyms and PokeStops attract players looking to stock up on Poke Balls or fight to take over Gyms. The app randomly chooses locations for Gyms and PokeStops but businesses fortunate enough to be close by are naturally getting more foot traffic, and ultimately more sales.

Dropping Lures to Attract Rare Creatures

Pokémon Go has a wide range of in-app purchases, but Lures are benefitting businesses the most. Lures attract rare Pokémon in the area for half an hour. Players catch wind of the lure and the rare Pokémon, sending them straight to the business’s front door.

One pizzeria owner in New York City saw business skyrocket 75 percent after spending $10 on lures that attracted a dozen characters to the shop. Players came to the shop for the Pokémon and stayed for the pizza.

Lures cost 100 PokeCoins and last a total of 30 minutes. One hundred coins cost 99 cents, while 1,200 coins cost $9.99 enough lures to last six hours. The only catch? Businesses need to be located near PokeStops for this to work. Buying lures is easy. All businesses have to do is tap the Poke Ball at the bottom of the screen, and select “Shop.” Pokecoin packs can be purchased through the store, and then used to buy lures.

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Hosting Gym Competitions

Businesses located near gyms are finding creative ways to capitalize on their attractive location. Lures can’t be dropped near gyms, but that’s not why players are attracted to them in the first place. Players battle one another to take over Gyms to earn Valor, Mystic or Instinct. Maps can help businesses find out if they’re located near a Gym or PokeStop for that matter.

Being in close proximity to a Gym will naturally draw in more foot traffic, but many businesses are employing creative marketing schemes to bring in larger crowds and engage with players.

Some capitalize on the competition aspect by keeping score and making that score public. Others host giveaways and offer prizes, like Pokémon badges, to anyone who takes over the gym, yet others are using social media to advertise their Gym by posting screenshots of players battling for control.

Providing a Place for Players to Recharge

Businesses that are nowhere near a PokeStop or Gym can get in on the craze by offering players a place to recharge their phones. Pokémon Go is a battery-intensive app that uses a phone’s GPS, camera, Wi-Fi and a host of other components to run. Even with the game’s battery-saving mode, players are still running out of juice quickly.

Many businesses are taking advantage of this by providing players a place to recharge their phones while they hunt for Pokémon. Most are requiring a small purchase in exchange for charge time, which works well for convenience stores.

Using Social Media to Target Players

Social media is another tool that businesses are using to take advantage of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Some post about PokeStops nearby, while others post snapshots of Pokémon caught in the area. Businesses are also offering special discounts or promotions to players, and they’re advertising those deals on social media.

Creative businesses are giving special discounts to players who post screenshots of Pokémon they find at the store or nearby, and this is leading to further business.

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Pokémon Go is one of the most popular smartphone apps in history, but there are some businesses who are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon. Some argue the game is just a fad, while others say loitering players are bad for business. But even if Pokémon Go is just a fad, businesses of all sizes are cashing in on the craze while they still can and their efforts are clearly paying off.

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