How toy shops can capitalise on the Pokémon Go phenomenon

Billy Langsworthy

By Billy Langsworthy

July 28th 2016 at 11:42AM
UPDATED July 28th 2016 at 12:25PM
How toy shops can capitalise on the Pokémon Go phenomenon

ToyNews editor Billy Langworthy takes a look at how toy stores can take inspiration from pizza places, bookstores and coffee shops in using Pokémon Go to boost footfall - regardless of whether or not you stock Pokémon toys.

Well it’s finally here. Pokémon Go has landed in the UK.

For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an app that uses your phone’s camera, GPS, Google Maps and augmented reality technology to bring the smash hit brand into the real world.

Download the game, take a wander down the High Street and you’ll likely find a Pikachu hanging out by Greggs, a Gengar walking the aisles of Boots and a Snorlax blocking the entrance to the Ann Summers changing rooms.

Available in the US, Germany and now the UK, it’s already installed on more devices that Candy Crush, LinkedIn, Tinder and Clash of Clans and boasts more daily active users than Spotify and Netflix. It’s re-ignited talks between the studios for a live action Pokémon movie.

Even Phillip Schofield is hooked, tweeting ‘capturing a wild Zubat on a bumpy country lane is not easy.’

It’s not all rosey though. A Holocaust Museum in the US has been forced to ask players to stop looking for Pokémon there, people have crashed cars while playing and four people were actuallly arrested for using the game to lure players to remote locations in order to rob them.

But away from the controversy, Pokémon Go has given savvy retailers a whole new means of drawing consumers into their stores, regardless of whether or not they stock Pokémon products.

‘Lure Modules’ are used by players in the game to attract Pokemon to a certain location. For example, you could buy Lures, put them by your house and suddenly there’ll be swarms of Pokemon on your front door. Businesses are snapping up Lore Modules and using them to draw Pokémon to their shops in the hope that players looking for Pokémon will come knocking too.

And it’s working.

A pizzeria in New York saw sales jump 75 per cent after spending $10 on luring Pokemon to its location. Elsewhere, Blackwells bookshops are asking players to screenshot any Pokémon found in their stores and tweet the photos to its social media channels. The best photo wins a copy of the Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook.

A coffee shop even went as far to put up a sign stating ‘Pokémon found inside are for paying customers only,’ while another offered consumers who screenshot a Pokémon inside the shop a free drink.

If it’s good enough for pizza places, book stores and coffee shops, then toy stores (some stocking actual Pokémon products) should prove a perfect fit to capitalise on the Pokémon Go phenomenon.

Whether it’s a deal for anyone who catches a Pokémon in the shop, promotions around connected merchandise or just £10 spent on luring Pikachu to your shop, it’s worth climbing aboard the craze while it’s still piping hot.

I myself saw a Charizard wandering the office last week. Rather than catch and train it for battles, I asked politely and now it does the tea rounds.