You may have heard, or noticed, the latest smartphone game that has caught the attention of virtually everyone the past few weeks – Pokemon Go. Launched in early July, Pokemon Go has already become the biggest US mobile game, drawing in around 21 million active users daily. 


This free augmented reality game is similar to a real-life treasure hunt where players have to walk and search around their local community at landmarks, parks, and retail stores to find Pokemon characters on their smartphone. Pokemon Go also has PokeStops at real-life locations, where players can collect items to capture additional Pokemon. With the recent success of Pokemon Go, many key players within retail and banking are taking advantage of the increased foot traffic by stepping up their promotions and loyalty offers. 


“The rapid adoption of Pokemon Go shows how quickly consumers can start using a mobile-specific experience,” said Fazir Ali, mobile strategy and innovation leader at Key Bank. “The lesson for us here is that we need to continue to create mobile banking services that are easy to use and add value either by providing insight or rewards.”


In the past, retailers and banks have relied on a variety of solutions to try and gain additional traffic in-stores with solutions such as beacons or geolocation. Although Pokemon Go is not a loyalty app, mobile wallet, nor a payment solution, it has unquestionably driven a significant amount of traffic to various businesses across the U.S. as players continue to try and find more Pokemon.


“The hyper engagement and addictiveness of the game is the sense of accomplishing a task and getting to the next level,” much like the objective of mobile payments and banking developers, Ali said. “I think a similar type of emotional connection could be applied to mobile payments.” 


Although some retailers view the new game as a nuisance, many are welcoming this latest fad and appreciate the free marketing benefits and foot traffic Pokemon Go has provided their business. Currently, the specific stops where players can find Pokemon are pre-set by game developers, yet there may be an opportunity in the near future for businesses to pay so they can be a designated stop. However, businesses do have the capability presently to buy a “Lure Module” in the game where for 30 minutes, Pokemon will intentionally be placed at their business in hopes to lure players to their location. 


“Trust me when I say this game is exploding, and it stands to have a daily impact on your business,” said Forbes game reviewer, Jason Evangelho. “The best approach you can take is to make that impact positive by embracing the game and making the Pokemon Go experience a memorable one for both you and your potential customers.” 


Pokemon Go is a great opportunity to increase sales and gain new customers. As the game continues to gain popularity, step up your marketing efforts and consider getting involved with Pokemon Go to gain more foot traffic and exposure for your business.