Pokemon Go: The Retail Evolution


TapMango Pokemon Go
Catching Pokemon in London! Source: International Business Times

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality mobile game that allows users to catch Pokemon based on their real-time location.The game has taken the world by storm, and has evolved into a viral phenomenon, with user-generated content flooding social media daily. Just like when the franchise started twenty years ago, Pokemon has created a global community brought together by the love of the game. It has effectively captured and repurposed the nostalgia of those who grew up playing Pokemon, and simultaneously introduced a new generation to the magic of the franchise.

Pokemon Go has seen meteoric success since its release, as it has quickly become the biggest US mobile game in history, and has surpassed Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat for the amount of time spent on the app. This reflects the impact that Pokemon Go has had on the world, and because of the massive hype surrounding it, and the fact that you have to physically move around to play the game, retail shops have the opportunity to capitalize on this momentum. While marketing strategies will rely on in-game functions of Pokemon Go, there are many ways for retail stores to take advantage of the game without ever having to download it. However, with a bit of creativity, if you download and actively use the game, you can quickly adapt to the trend, and create marketing initiatives that target Pokemon Go users, and integrate themselves into the culture.


The main way for your retail store to attract customers with Pokemon Go is to use an in-gameLure Module. A lure module is an item that attracts Pokemon to a specific area for 30 minutes. All players will be able to see the activated lure, and go to that spot to catch Pokemon. Lure modules can only be placed at Pokestops. These are landmarks found on the game map that give away free items (such as Pokeballs and Berries) to players. The Pokestops were placed at set locations when the game was released, and so far cannot be created or moved.

TapMango Pokemon Go
Example of a retail Pokestop in Pokemon Go. Source: UptownSJ

As a merchant, the first step in using Pokemon Go for marketing campaigns, is to check if there is a Pokestop near your store; if you’re lucky enough, there’ll be one right in front or near by! However, don’t fret if you’re not close to one, it is likely that the developers will add a feature that allows you to create your own Pokestop in the future!

A lure module can be bought in the game for 100 Pokecoins, which equates to $1.00, or you can buy eight for 680 Pokecoins ($6.80). With your lure module purchased, and a Pokestop nearby, your business can begin to integrate Pokemon Go into its marketing strategy! However, while many businesses will try to capitalize on the success of the game into their present marketing techniques, it cannot guarantee long term customer retention. Pokemon Go may be a high priority for your customers right now, but eventually the craze will begin to die down. You’ll want a way to retain the customers you gained from the game, and a good way to do that is through a loyalty program.

Follow the steps below to use Pokemon Go in your marketing campaigns:


As advised above, you can increase the foot traffic around your store by attracting prospective customers with lure modules. However, as lures are only effective for 30 minutes, the best strategy to bring in the most number of players is to give them advance notice. Let them know ahead of time that you’ll be using a lure module outside your store, and players will have the chance to plan ahead! For example, post on social media, or place a big sign outside your store letting everyone know where and when you’ll be creating a lure. Getting the message out is crucial in bringing in players, and ensuring visibility for your store.

Loyalty Bonus: Remember, your loyal customers always come first! Using your loyalty program, you can easily send them a quick notification advising them you’ll be creating a lure in your area.  Let them know about the specific time you’ll be creating the lure, and invite them to stop by and catch the Pokemon near your store. Additionally, why not offer them a 10% discount if they drop in and show you the Pokemon they’ve caught. This helps to show how much you appreciate their loyalty!


Now that players are informed, set your lure module and watch as the foot traffic begins to pick up. Just imagine what less than $10.00 a day from your marketing budget can do for your earnings potential!


If a Pokestop is close by to your store, you will have most likely witnessed that players are continually on the hunt for Pokemon, so you need to be ready for them as they pass by your store. As mentioned above, storefront signs can be great in this situation, but you can do much better! You or another person working at your shop can pop outside and talk to the players in the area. Introduce them to your business, and have pamphlets ready to give out; a little conversation goes a long way!

Loyalty Bonus: Use proximity marketing to put a virtual fence around your store (with a radius that includes the Pokestop). Once your loyal customers enter the area, they’ll be sent a message reminding them to come by, catch Pokemon, and purchase items at a discount. Studies found that proximity marketing increased in-store engagement by 60%, and 73% of consumers were more likely to make a purchase when notified through this method.


With your lure in place, and the players on their way, your business can now prepare for the rush! Your lure will bring in people who have been walking around for long periods of time (some people play for hours!). So make sure those passing by know your store has a place to rest up and you’ll increase the chances of them coming in. Offer things like mobile charging stations and glasses of water to keep players and their devices refreshed, and they’ll appreciate your efforts.

Loyalty Bonus: Your loyal customers are in the area to play so give them more opportunities to win. Use your loyalty program to have your customers play the built-in game feature when they walk into your store. Now they can get both Pokemon, and $5 off your store! Using gaming mechanics in stores has been found to improve engagement levels by 48%, and this is an easy way to help increase customer retention. You’ll also spark the curiosity of players in your store, who will also want to get in on the action.


As your store is focusing on its Pokemon Go campaigns, you’ll be able to use the help of players to spread the word about what you’re up to. A great way to do this is to have your customers take photos of the Pokemon they catch in and around your store. Let them know that if they upload it to their Facebook page with a link to your store, you’ll offer them a discount on their purchase. Get creative with what you task players with. They’ll appreciate the challenge, and the discount!

Loyalty Bonus: Use the friend referral tool in your loyalty program to send unique links to each loyal customer. They can then forward it to their friends and the system will automatically track the rewards. With a referral system, your customers get rewards and you get more business – everyone benefits!


Pokemon Go has brought out the inner child in many people, and therefore, a playful marketing strategy can be used to reach players. Marketing to your customers may be a standard part of business, but when done in a lighthearted manner, they’ll appreciate your efforts and you’ll see an influx of business. So ‘Go’ with the flow! Embrace the Pokemon Go craze while it’s around, because there’s no telling when it might end.

Loyalty Bonus: Your loyalty program can take this a step further, and take your Pokemon Go related campaigns to the next level. For example, send your loyal customers messages specifically tailored to the game, with discounts that are unique to them. A study found that 75% of consumers continue to participate in loyalty programs because of relevant rewards and promotions, and Pokemon Go has given businesses a huge opportunity to capitalize on the times.


It’s only been a few weeks, but Pokemon Go has absolutely dominated the world. While there is a great opportunity for small businesses to capitalize on the marketing potential, you must ensure that these efforts also help to build a long-term relationship with your customers, and help to retain their business. Next to a Pikachu, customer loyalty is a merchant’s best friend for catching and retaining new customers, and using a loyalty 3.0 program will be ‘super effective’ for your business! The opportunity is big, the promotions are fun, and people everywhere are on the ‘Go.’ So what are you waiting for? Collect new loyal customers, and catch em all!

         A nod to the 1996 Pokemon GameBoy Game; Source: Stack Exchange


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