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How Some Brands Are Cashing In On The Pokémon Craze

From increasing foot traffic and sales to capitalizing on the interests and needs of the massive Pokémon fandom, some businesses and brands are cashing in on the biggest mobile game ever…

Yes, there’s still more to say about Pokémon Go! While other apps may be suffering in the wake of the game’s popularity, brands and businesses quickly tried to figure out ways to cash in on the trend. Sure, not everyone may understand the Pokémon Go appeal, but one expert argues that ignoring the Poké-phenomenon could actually be bad for business, and a quick review of the Pokémon-effect so far shows that it has already been massively beneficial to some. Nintendo’s own value has doubled in the short weeks since the game’s launch, and Apple will reportedly make $3 billion thanks to the Pokémon-mania. The game has opened the doors to show the potential of augmented reality gaming—especially revealing young consumers’ clear interest in it. But you don’t necessarily have to be in the tech world to capitalize on the craze. With every day that passes it seems that more brands are hatching (get it?) their own plans to make the most of the Pokémon Go wave. As the game expands to more countries, we see no sign of interest dying down (and remember, two weeks is an eternity in internet time) and the opportunity to take advantage of the Poké-moment is strong. So as inspiration, here are six ways brands that have been cashing in on the craze, from creative game-hacks to major campaigns:


This week, rumors began to fly that Pokémon Go would finally became available in Japan, where players have been eagerly awaiting their chance to catch ‘em all. But that launch has been delayed because of an email leaking that McDonald’s Japan will be the first commercial sponsorship for the game, turning 3,000 of their locations in the country into Pokémon Gyms—which virtually guarantees that players will come running through the doors. Even before the leak, speculation that McDonald’s Japan would be collaborating with Pokémon go caused their stocks to hit a 15-year high. Now that’s a powerful game.


Sponsored locations might not have launched yet, but that hasn’t stopped restaurants and other businesses in the U.S. from using Pokémon to increase their foot traffic. For some brick-and-mortar businesses Pokémon Go has become a “blessing in disguise.” Players seeking out Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops (training spots for Pokémon and places to find items useful in the game) have found themselves in malls, restaurants, and retail stores—an opportunity that should not be missed by brands, especially those that could use the extra foot traffic. Brands are advised to first figure out if their business is a Gym or PokéStop, or find out if they are near one to capitalize on the trend. There is also the option to lure in players by paying $10 for daily “lure modules,” that “lays bait for Pokémon,” which is what many restaurants are doing in hopes to boost sales


Pokémon players are wandering their streets and parks with cell phones in hands, and the game eats up a good amount of data—and a good amount of battery power. In fact, mobile phone charger sales are reportedly surging as a result. RadioShack has seen a 50% increase in mobile charging products, and is addressing the unique need with deals and discounts for Pokémon players, who can show that they’ve downloaded the game in some stores to get price cuts on chargers. Fortune reports that other tech retailers are using free charging stations and even lemonade stands to bring in gamers.


McDonald’s Japan might not be an official Pokémon Go sponsor just yet, but they’ve still been answering the increase in Pokémon interest. To satiate young consumer’ Pokémon hunger, they began giving away Pokémon character figurines and toys with happy meals. Fans can collect Pikachu ball games, along with spinners, squirters, and more featuring other monsters. The introduction of the products has also been credited for boosting the brand’s stock.


In the wake of the launch of its hit mobile game, Pokémon interest in general has surged, and the cartoon has quickly become one of Netflix’s most watched shows. Legendary Entertainment is capitalizing on the moment, securing the film rights to the franchise in a heated battle this week. The studio will reportedly be fast-tracking the film (no surprise there) and creating a live-action addition to the beloved franchise starting in 2017. Current plans are for the film to be an adaption of Detective Pikachu, a 3D game that features the yellow monster as a, yes, detective who works with humans to solve mysteries.  


With all these young consumers hooked on their phones, multiple app companies are riding on Pokémon’s coat tails, creating related content for the Poké-obsessed. Poke radar is an app that helps players to find Pokémon near them with an interactive map that shows where and when they were found. The platform launched last week and is now the second most downloaded free app in the App Store—behind Pokémon Go of course. For those who want to turn their love of Pokémon into a true romance, PokéDates and PokéMatch are two new dating apps that pair up partners for walks. Because modern romance is hunting virtual monsters together.  

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