Pokémon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail

Discussion
Source: Pokémon video
Jul 18, 2016
Glenn Taylor

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

The Pokémon Go smartphone app has created plenty of buzz since its release in the U.S. and Australia on July 6. More than 15 million people have downloaded the app from the Apple Store. From a retailer’s perspective, that’s 15 million case studies for how potential shoppers are getting used to and using augmented reality-based apps within their daily life.

This could be great news for brick-and-mortar stores and malls, which have been seeking out ways to increase store traffic. Pokémon including “Pokéstops” and “Pokégyms” designed to help users collect items and stage battles with other opponents.

The app’s “Pokéstops” and “Pokégyms” are already built into Google Maps to take place at landmarks, public parks and buildings that are easily distinguishable by players. Retailers partnering with the app to sponsor their own stores could provide greater incentive to consumers traveling to shops and malls.

While some restaurants and retailers have banned the game, a T-Mobile store put up signage encouraging shoppers to get a new phone so that they can use the app. An Australia-based Woolworths Supermarket interacted with a shopper on Facebook that had caught a Pokémon within a store.

When a New York pizzeria spent $10 to have a dozen Pokémon characters lured to the location, sales increased 75 percent throughout the weekend, according to the New York Post.

The app’s success may also provide brands with inspiration toward building out augmented reality within their own apps or partnering with other augmented reality-based companies to add value to the store experience.

“Gamification works,” Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research, in a blog post. “Retailers have many places in their business where the power of gamification can be leveraged — in employee training, in customer loyalty programs. The rewards of Go are simple, but they’re powerful. Wouldn’t any retailer like to have this level of addiction with their own apps? Especially if that addiction converts to spending real dollars?”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What does the popularity of the Pokémon Go smartphone app say about the potential of augmented reality for retailers? Do you see such gamification efforts becoming major traffic-driving tools for stores? Or does the phenomenon say more about app engagement?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is a fad looking for ways to monetize its popularity."
"I attempted to negotiate the streets of NY on the day the game was released, and had the bizarre experience of seeing New Yorkers walk too SLOWLY..."
"Now that the AR genie is out of the bottle, it surely won’t go back."

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18 Comments on "Pokémon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail"


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Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

This is the start of something big. Pokemon Go is just the beginning. If this type of gamification catches on, there will be amazing marketing opportunities for all types of businesses — especially in the retail industry. In the near future we’ll see other versions of Pokemon Go (as in competitors) that try and enhance the user/gamer experience. So … Let the games begin!

Tom Redd
Guest

This is a rude attempt at value-driven gamification in retail. I see this as a real problem for retailers, and bike trails, and parks and driving. This is another social tool that eats up mental space that late-Millennials and other strange “born with a phone” generations have. In a store chasing some thing and tossing balls at it? Tell me the real value to a retailer. Keep at it, because it is not adding any value in my book. It is a stupid game for people that just love their phones.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

I’m in agreement that philosophically it’s not necessarily healthy to be on our phones all the time, but that doesn’t change the fact that people are. A big piece of the online game today is users and with the number of people using Pokémon Go, it warrants some attention. The app boasts 15-20M downloads as of several days ago, average users spend 33 minutes per session and the fanfare has added 7.5B to the Nintendo stock price. It’d be a mistake to think that advertisers aren’t going to figure out how to monetize an audience like that.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

This is a smartphone app that appeals to a specific set of individuals, and does not appear to actually be embraced by businesses on any measurable scale. It is great to demonstrate this as a popular app, but actually selling ads around it and measuring the impact of the ad (compared to the cost) seems not to be as popular as some would have us believe. This is a fad looking for ways to monetize its popularity.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Popularity does not necessarily translate to monetization for retailers. Although, I must admit, the Pokemon Go phenomenon should teach us all that something unique, exciting, engaging and competitive can create unbelievable buzz.

Augmented reality and gamification will most definitely be part of future marketing mixes … perhaps sooner than we all imagined.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

I attempted to negotiate the streets of New York on the day the game was released, and had the bizarre experience of seeing New Yorkers walk too SLOWLY.

I don’t see AR being a success in apparel retail, but at Toys “R” Us? GameStop? At furniture stores? This could be huge.

Robert DiPietro
Guest

This is clearly a popular application, but can retailers make money off it? Yes! they can use AR to show consumers how they look in certain clothes or makeup combinations. Retailers could also use it for a certain generation of loyalty program customers and let them unlock certain rewards.

Gamification is here — there are many applications for the retailer from training to customer engagements. We already see retailers training on YouTube, why not bring in gamification?

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Strategy Architect – Digital Place-based Media
3 years 5 days ago

Pokemon Go reminds us to never underestimate the power of fun and the desire for people to engage. As a great window treatment, POP display, commercial or product buzz invites participation, the cost of the attention by the consumer in exchange for the value they receive is the long-standing and never-changing proposition in customer engagement. Hats off to Pokemon for the reminder. Now let’s see you grow into the type of social media and commercial platform that sustains attention. Good luck with that. The consumer gift of initial attention requires Pokemon to up the value. Remember the pet rock?

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

This may not respond to the questions posed about this article, however as my wife and I walked through a park at the beach, we saw a huge group of people looking very similar to this picture and we both thought about how so many people can gather together and not even say a word to each other. Is the lively art of conversation dying? I must be getting too old for this society.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
3 years 5 days ago

Pokémon Go is another example of clever companies harnessing the power of technology for engagement, in this case VR. Both VR and AR are technologies that retailers (and other industries) can use to gamifiy, educate, promote, reward and sell products and services. It’s how you use the technology (and how easy and fun it is to use) that will ultimately determine it’s business benefit.

Liz Crawford
Guest
The Great Augmented Reality is just dawning on America. While the technology has been around for a while, and even used promotionally at Walmart (and others), AR hasn’t been widely adopted until today’s Pokémon phenomenon. The convergence of smartphone penetration, Millennial mindset and astute gamification, has created a perfect storm for the mass adoption of AR. Now that the AR genie is out of the bottle, it surely won’t go back. The upside for retailers is well beyond Walmart’s early, brave forays. By adding a layer of information overtop “reality,” retailers can do more than simply gamify environments; they can incent engagement and even purchase outside of the store. AR means that the four walls of retail are literally blown apart. Imagine selling a new dress by having it appear at a party or the beach. Click to buy. Imagine selling a new kind of kabob by having it appear on a grill in your backyard at dinner time. Of course, information about products, price and usage (and reviews) are part of the picture. The… Read more »
Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
3 years 5 days ago

More than anything,the popularity of Pokemon Go underscores that to succeed in the future you need to understand context and relevance not to a “mass” of customers, but to specific segments. There are clearly way too many brands and retailers that still see the world through a mass marketing lens and thus fail to be relevant to many customers and prospects.

Some great comments here both supporting this thinking and also underscoring why there will be more failures in retail. Our quick take from last week is here.

Matthew Stern
Staff
As the game currently functions, I could see partnerships developing in which particularly valuable Pokémon are placed in a store location and maybe require an IRL purchase to get, but I think things really change when the rare Pokémon becomes the “Buy Button.” Maybe users will find themselves stumbling onto pop-up shops, rewards and such throughout the Pokéverse, or even find themselves on day-long multi-retailer quests. And further into the future, it seems as though there could very well be games in which AR characters mapped to different geographical locations collect and remember information about the people who interact with them. Want to know if your friend was in the store earlier? Talk to the extra-spatial wizard over by the pharmacy. I also wonder if Nintendo’s first-mover advantage (besides Ingress) will position it to be the AR go-to environment for a while, or if this one will atrophy and give way to the next shared universe. It seems that just as with social networks, we don’t really have a clue what determines the lifecycle of… Read more »
Debbie Hauss
Guest

I’ve been fascinated by how quickly this took off, and among a wide variety of age groups. My 28-year-old son said it is nostalgic for his group of friends, since they all played the card game when they were much younger. He also said he literally walked 10 miles in a few days playing the game. So from a fitness standpoint, for those who spend hours and days sitting playing these games, I’m glad to see some healthy activity associated with it.

I do think it will drive traffic to stores who sponsor the game, but as we’ve seen already there are some hazards. Some folks are playing in inappropriate places, such as Arlington National Cemetery; some people have gotten injured by not paying attention to where they going; while others have been lured into unsafe spots. Game organizers must try to mitigate some of the negatives before getting significant buy-in from sponsors who want to put their name on it.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
3 years 5 days ago
As Liz clearly stated, “Welcome to the Great New Reality.” Progress (however defined) comes in surprising turn of events. Pokémon Go is the tip of the iceberg and while it may not survive the next onslaught of innovations in AR and VR, it is ringing the siren of the Great New Reality in the consumer world. Those that heed it will adapt and prosper, those that turn a deaf ear will miss the next wave. Success depends on how quickly you adapt to the changing business landscape — and consumers are defining this faster than enterprises (and c-suites) are prepared to move and are doing it in provocative and unexpected ways. Depending on your age and interests, you may loathe or love it, but that will not make AR and VR go away. Retail is a highly innovative and dynamic industry and winners will never cease to surprise. The enduring nature of retail is that the customer votes with their pocketbook every day on what they value. It may seem counter-intuitive, but given that we’re… Read more »
Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

Ignore gamification, AR and VR at your own risk. Reminds me of the ridiculous argument about texting when it first started … it wasn’t “real” communication and so on. Problem with that line of reasoning is that it IS real to those who engage in it. This stuff is growing and is here to stay in some form. And those generations that are driving future spending want and embrace it, and frankly it is irrelevant if older generations think it is “stupid” or a “waste of time.” Whether Pokémon Go is the answer to generating revenue at retail, however, remains to be seen.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest

Similar to product placement in movies, AR retail is a wide-open opportunity.

Arie Shpanya
Guest

It shows that AR can really have mass appeal. As for potential applications for retailers, the possibilities are endless.

In terms of driving store traffic and sales, with Pokemon Go itself, I think it lends itself to work well in partnerships with restaurants and bars more so than apparel or other types of shops.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is a fad looking for ways to monetize its popularity."
"I attempted to negotiate the streets of NY on the day the game was released, and had the bizarre experience of seeing New Yorkers walk too SLOWLY..."
"Now that the AR genie is out of the bottle, it surely won’t go back."

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