Pokémon Go—the free-to-play location-based augmented reality game—has been sweeping the globe, and savvy retailers are capitalizing on its popularity.
A collaboration of Google spinoff Niantic and Nintendo, the game was released July 6th for iOS and Android devices. Since then, it has set unprecedented records for a mobile game. It currently has 26 million daily users (more than Twitter) and is seeing double the industry average in terms of both retention rate and revenue generation.
Progressive retailers, including mobile operators, are using the game’s popularity surge to drive consumers to their retail locations. Sprint is one of the first partners for Niantic’s sponsored location program (the other being McDonald’s). Sprint will be offering ‘Pokéstops’—blue pins visible on the playing map where players can grab free items—and ‘lure modules’—think electronic pheromones that attract Pokémon to a spot—at all their retail locations, as well as charging stations and onsite Pokémon Go experts.
T-Mobile has announced that from July 19th, it will be zero-rating Pokémon Go mobile data usage for a full year for customers who download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app. That means no matter how much data subscribers use chasing Pokémon with their devices, it won’t count against their plan limits.
Of course the game does have its glitches, as its ‘nearby tracking ability’ has been problematic for some. I experienced it this weekend with my 9-year-old son as we kept getting a GPS error message. However, when it did work, the game led us to a Pokémon creature that was cleverly located in the boy’s clothing department of one of our mall’s anchor stores, right near a rack of Marvel Spider-Man T-shirts, perfectly positioned to drive an impulse purchase.
Pokémon Go’s momentum is building as it is now available in 29 countries and will be rolled out to Japan this week. Yelp is now allowing consumers to search businesses by Pokéstops. And since the game’s debut, Nintendo shares are up 120 percent, adding an estimated $23 billion to the company’s market value.
Of course, one wonders how long the Pokémon Go trend will last. But while it does, smart retailers will gamify of their locations and turn Pokémon Go into a revenue opportunity. After all, younger kids will likely have a parent or two in tow as they chase imaginary creatures around a store, so why not try to get the folks to buy something while they’re there.