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Can Pokemon Go Be a Boost to Franchises?


Whether you already play the game, or are simply baffled by the manic popularity of Pokemon Go, allow me to explain, and offer a way to possibly turn hordes of wandering players into some additional traffic at your retail store or restaurant.

In the past couple of weeks, the United States, along with 26 other countries, has been swept up by Pokémon fever. The new augmented reality app, released by developer Niantic, has led aspiring Pokémon trainers all over their neighborhoods in search of the rare creatures and PokéStops, specific locations where players can hang out and collect items. The scavenger hunt-like nature of the app encourages players to travel places they normally don’t visit, increasing traffic to specific Poké-friendly areas.

Business partnership with the app is all but inevitable now, as Niantic CEO John Hanke mentioned that the game would soon implement advertisements in the form of “sponsored locations.” The sponsors will be able to create gyms, in-game locations where players can battle other trainers or train their Pokémon, a feature that would undoubtedly drive real-world traffic or potential sales to the business.

Many businesses are already included as a part of the game through the aforementioned PokéStops. If a lure, another in-game item, is placed on the PokéStop, Pokémon spawn more frequently, further attracting players.

Earlier this week McDonald’s stepped in to snag a piece of the Pokémon pie. The nation’s largest franchise, somewhat unsurprisingly, became the first business to partner with the world’s hottest app.

As the app expands into Japan in the near future, McDonald’s is expected to launch its first Poké-presence. According to TechCrunch, the tie-in will see McDonald’s 3,000-plus Japanese restaurants featured as gyms throughout the game.

While America may have to wait a while to see specific partnerships with franchises, I already saw a glimpse of a potential partnership here in Minnesota. The Mall of America in Bloomington, which already has 25 PokéStops and two gyms, set up PokéStop lures to last throughout the past weekend. The mall had charging stations for trainers (the game is brutal for phone batteries), and a DJ playing sets for trainers in the mall’s rotunda.

I saw throngs of people playing the game, obvious from their Pokémon-themed attire and that they nearly ran into other shoppers while staring at their phones.

My friends and I, all avid players of the game, went to MOA specifically for its Poké-friendly setups, but ended up doing some shopping along the way. I can only assume that this was the case with countless other Pokémon Go players throughout the mall.

The hype for Pokémon Go will inevitably die down in the coming months, but based on its wild popularity, augmented reality games are here to stay and will keep improving. It’ll be interesting to watch what other brands partner with this game and AR games of the future.

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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