[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]n the last month, the growing phenomenon that is Pokemon Go has swept certain parts of the world and left the rest rearing for their individual launch days. The game launched on 6th August in Singapore – meaning there’s some studying up to do. We’re stripping away the hype, speculation and jargon to leave you the know-how to ride this wave. HM04Surf

Not convinced it’s important? Well, McDonald’s already has a foot in the door, multiple telcos and ride-sharing services (including Grab) have already cashed in on the trend. Food review site Yelp has added a “Pokestop” search filter. Countless small businesses across the world have also founds ways to woo the new crowds through their front door. Like it or not, there’s going to be at least a short-run effect that can be capitalised on.

This guide is broken into bite-sized sections – it’s heavy reading, we know.

What Is Pokemon Go?

A smartphone game, which encourages users (trainers) to roam the real world in search of virtual Pocket Monsters (short: Pokemon, plural: Pokemon). A Pokemon will appear on a trainer’s phone screen if he or she gets close enough to the creature’s reported location. The trainers can then catch them all as pets, after which they can be used to battle or simply serve as bragging rights. TheVeryBest

This is, really, not unlike the kampung past-time of catching the best fighting spiders in a matchbox, or keeping trophy fighting fish in a jar. Except that there are going to be tens millions of active players, and they’re going to be prowling around in urban areas, bringing considerable purchasing power with them.

SAME IDEA, DIFFERENT ERA: (Left) Fighting Spiders Singapore watching a spider
fight at Sengkang Community Club. (Right) Pokemon Go has turned usually deserted parks into gathering points where players congregate, socialise and chase down rare virtual creatures.

What Can I Expect? 

Thousands of Singaporeans roaming the streets, day and night, stopping occasionally to peer at smartphone screens. They will also congregate at certain locations for perhaps hours a time – exactly where depends on the smartphone app (crucial information, more on this later in article). This number will be augmented by tourists who have the game installed, as well – they may well be stopping by in Singapore to find region-exclusive Pokemon.before blasting off again

If the Hello Kitty episodes are any indication, Singaporeans can be surprisingly dogged when it comes to collecting Japanese animated characters. Pictured: 1km Hello Kitty queue, Ang Mo Kio, 2013.

Expect newly-minted cyclists, drivers pulling over for no apparent reason, cases of trespassing, and frenzied rushes as rare and desirable Pokemon appear in the proximity of avid players.

Why Will It Mattter To My Business?

Pokemon Go releasing here will herald a heavy increase in human traffic. It’s a social phenomenon that motivates users to spend more time out-of-doors instead of holed up at home. This presents business opportunities to many industries, at least while the craze lasts. Here are some examples, based off observations made by journalists and players in the U.S.

  • F&B establishments: Large numbers of trainers may show up in the vicinity and can be converted into paying customers. Wifi-enabled cafes with strong networks are favoured. Do you want to offer discounts to trainers, start a Pokemon-themed tip jar, or offer phone chargers with the meal? To combat table hogs, should there be a minimum spend or time limit for each customer? Fast food giant McDonald’s is already on board.
  • F&B: Sales of fast food and energy drinks may surge. Mobile food trucks and drinks vendors can target hot spots.
  • Fashion & Apparel: Upticks in sales of walking and biking gear reported. Consider sale of Pokemon clothing and merchandise.
  • Mobile operators: Sales of smartphones that can support the game will surge – see the game requirements here. The game needs constant network connectivity, so network loads will increase and good coverage will become very important. Offering special deals to prospective players will net significant gains. Take a leaf out of John Legere’s book. The CEO of T-Mobile (#3 telco in the States) was quick to capitalise. Two Hong Kong telcos followed suit shortly after.

    • Pharmaceutical: Sales of blister ointments, suntan lotion and treatments for heat rash soared during the first week after launch.
    • Transport: Demand for taxis may increase as trainers travel across the land in response to rare Pokemon sightings. Offering special vouchers to existing customers could breed brand royalty. Lyft, a transport service in the States, is a partner with the T-Mobile campaign mentioned prior.
    • Hospitality: Bookings for rooms near hotspots – areas near multiple Pokemon “rest stops”, or known for rare Pokemon, will see increased demand.
    • All Industries: Issues such as perimeter security and even employee productivity may take a hit. Proactively declaring your property out-of-bounds to trainers (or, conversely, welcoming them into designated zones on your premises) will help manage the traffic or reduce loitering. Your own employees may be distracted by the game, particularly in areas with high activity concentration such as the CBD or shopping districts.

Swipe or click left / right to see what some businesses are doing.

Any demographics of this group?

The projected ages of players are 3 to 40 (even 50) with a high concentration of 20- to 35-year-olds. The app’s dominance is largely due to the international success of the Pokemon franchise, which began as far back as 1995 in Japan and 1998 internationally.

A straw poll of 1075 users from the Pokemon Go Singapore Facebook page indicates a high concentration of potential players aged 25 and up – who have significant purchasing power. The local Facebook community garnered over 20,000 followers in 8 days.

Someone who had been 11 years old in 1998 and who played the first-generation Game Boy games would be approximately 30 this year. A 21-year-old would now be around 40. But new users cannot be discounted as well – the game is simple enough for preschoolers to grasp, based on our trials.

How can I draw the crowds to my area?

There are currently three ways businesses can get on board. The first – creating and promoting special deals and packages that engage these players – is covered above.

The second and third are concerned with making sure the traffic passes by your shop front. In addition to hunting Pokemon at beaches or nature reserves, players in the city will plan routes based on how many checkpoints they can walk by. These checkpoints are known as Pokestops. Follow this handy pictorial guide to see if you can capitalise on a nearby Pokestop.

1. While in your physical store, download Pokemon Go on the Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhone).

2. Log in using an Google (GMail) account, or sign up for a Pokemon Trainer Club account.

Swipe / click left and right to navigate the rest of guide.

Further reading

The idea for Pokemon was conceived when Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri envisioned a virtual world where his childhood hobbies of catching insects, spiders and tadpoles could be realised. To him, rapid urbanisation across the globe meant future generations of children would not be exposed to the idea of interacting with wildlife – and so the franchise was created to somewhat remedy that disconnect.

Over 20 years, Pokemon has since become one of the world’s most well-known and loved franchises across multiple generations. The current-day success of Pokemon Go leverages heavily on that nostalgia factor, and is also the perfect storm of these factors:

Smartphone capability: The game augments reality rather than replaces it:  it uses GPS to link the player’s position in the real world to the game; the phone gyroscope and camera contribute to the perception that the Pokemon exists in the real world; it assumes constant connection to the Internet and requires phones powerful enough to generate 3D images.

Robust crowd-sourced data collection: Thanks to a extremely involved global community of gamers that played Niantic’s earlier game, Ingress, the company had access to a database of real-life attractions / monuments / artworks / places of significance, which the company then used to designate Pokestops and Gyms. This saved them years of research while tapping on the grassroots nature of the game community.

Social Media: There’s a perfect overlap with the generations most active on social media and the target audience of the game. The augmented reality feature (where creatures are superimposed on a real-world background) also makes for fun and easy-to-share photos.