How Yelp Cafes & Woolworths are leading business via Pokemon Go > Food Strategy
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How Yelp Cafes & Woolworths are leading business via Pokemon Go

July 27, 2016

How Yelp Cafes & Woolworths are leading business via Pokemon Go
If you’re not addicted to Pokemon Go then you’re probably tired of hearing about it. What if I told you Pokemon Go could increase your food business’ revenue?

Pokemon Go is all about capturing critters on your smart phone while playing into your real world via Google Maps. While I’m not a gamer, I’m definitely drawn to the phenomenon and marketing potential of Pokémon Go and how it can benefit the food industry.
The ideas are only limited by you.

During the last week of July Pokemon Go released in Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and France putting the gaming app in over 30 countries and spreading fast - food cultures will be flavouring the fad their way. Check for latest releases on the Facebook page.
This Pokemon Go video attracted over 5 million views in 20 days. 

Pokémon has been around for many years and part of its appeal is the wide age demographic partly due to its long-term presence. Older players feel instantly connected to the new concept because of the feeling of nostalgia when they played Pokémon games as children. Those new to Pokémon Go are enthralled with the virtual engagement into their real world as they get to know the game’s characters and how it integrates with Google Maps in real time.

I define a food business as anywhere that sells food – EG: restaurant, café, bakery, deli, grocery store, butcher, canteens, food trucks, bars, pubs, clubs etc. How can this work in your favour as the owner of a food business?

Most food businesses are classed as small business so they’re naturally savvy at implementing low-cost marketing ideas. Pokémon Go has created an instant audience that can be lead to your door like a loyal flock of sheep. Even the big time food players like Woolworths (who are pushing their ‘fresh food people’ campaign strongly on Facebook) have incorporated Pokémon fun into their social media. They created a photo that converted an apple into a hybrid Pokémon ball. This one photo alone generated engagement of 39,000 likes, 15,000 comments and nearly 8,000 shares.

Brew Cafe in north Queensland is buying ‘Lures’ from Pokémon Go to attract players to the café at the strategic time of 3:00pm to better entice the mums and kids to earn a discount when they buy at the café.
International search directory has introduced a Poke Stop filter to its app and website so you can search restaurants that are near an identified Poke Stop or Gym.
YELP POKEMON GO search filter

At the moment you can’t get your business location registered as a landmark in the game’s virtual map, however ‘sponsored locations’ are predicted in the near future. You will pay to have your business identified as a Pokémon hot zone to attract players (Pokémon Trainers).

Here’s some ideas that I’ve researched:
  1. Create witty images and comments that people will want to share on social media. This helps spread your brand and products. Refer to the Woolworths idea above.
  2. Remember to use hashtags such as #PokemonGo and #PokeStop on social media.
  3. Cafes can create Pokemon themed barista art on coffees served with Pokemon ball biscuits on the side.
  4. Think about how you can merge your products with characters of the game.
    EG: Bars could colour match a cocktail for Team Valor.
    Bakeries could ‘lure’ families simply by topping cupcakes with Poke Balls or character images. The game encourages exercise – use your menu to attract health focused players eg: Green Poke Juice for energy. 
  5. Find out if your business is located in a hot spot zone of Poke Stops and Poke Gyms. You would do well to let your followers on social media know about it. 
  6. Create your own searchable hashtag that aligns with a social media campaign. Include rewards for people who enter your competitions or business and include the hashtag. EG: #PokemonCoffeeClub
  7. Run competitions that entice a visit to the restaurant while driving your social media engagement. Cactus Jack’s in Townsville throws out lures on Pokemon themed nights to attract business. Then run in-house competitions.
    EG: catch the highest powered Pokémon and receive a 20% discount on desserts.
    Paste a screen shot of your result on the business’ Facebook page with the hashtag #PokeDesserts. 
  8. Hang balloons in red, blue or yellow to show your support for Pokémon teams. Give a Facebook shout out for anyone who tags the business while in the store and can show their team colour.
  9. Buy Lures from Pokémon Go and set them off to attract players and Pokémon characters to your location. Attach those lures near your café to attract Pokémon users. A lure lasts for 30 minutes. Buy them with Poke Coins. Many players can take advantage of a lure simultaneously. So use it to attract players and Pokémons to your location.Lures work best if your business is located near a PokeStop or PokeGym. It’s been reported by a New York pizza store that sales increased by 75 percent.
  10. Register your business on noting that Pokémon has registered a Pokemon Stop or Gym near your location. They will add you to their Poke Stop directory
  11. Use strategic times to release the Lures to capture your best sales EG: The school pick up, early evening for dinner trade, early morning for commuters who need a coffee while they play.
  12. Supply tools in your business that will help a player to play longer such as phone chargers or access to power points and wi-fi when they buy a meal.
  13. Create a healthy themed menu designed to energise Pokémon players so they can walk for miles to catch more Zubats or refuel themselves after a long journey of adventures. 
  14. Food carts and food trucks are swarming to known popular Pokemon locations such as South Bank in Brisbane. They are going where the players are. Get involved and research a hot zone.
  15. If a customer catches a Pokemon in your restaurant, posts it to social media and tags your business in the pic, enter them into a raffle at the restaurant. 
  16. Create cheeky street signs to invite players in. EG:
    Now that you’ve walked so far catching Pokémon, you need food to refuel – step inside and fill up.
    Burnt calories chasing Pokémon? Refuel here so you can get going again.
  17. Get heard. Tell the makers of Pokémon Go (Niantic Labs) there are no gyms or stops near your business location. There’s no harm in placing a request on the Pokémon contact page. you never know your luck – they’re still building the app for global reach and they may be interested in your location.

  • Make your business safe, as Pokemon players may not be looking up as they move around.
  • There are hundreds of Pokemon creatures with their own style, characters, strengths and weaknesses. So if you choose one to market, make sure you know its quirky traits. Character Database here.
  • Don’t be fooled, like any social engagement concept, it takes time and effort to constantly engage the users.  Ask your employees, you might find that most of them are already playing the game and can help you brainstorm marketing campaigns to attract more sales.  There will always be someone who wants to waste time at your cafe or restaurant to only catch Pokémon so make sure you think of a strategy to encourage spending.
  • Some restaurants have been overwhelmed and banned Pokémon players. If it’s not your thing then I suggest you let them down gently rather than voicing aggressive resistance to the believers. After all, customers vote with their feet and Poke players are literally on the move. 

Lure and catch a Pokemon player while you can - nobody know how long it will last.

For further information contact Chris Green (co-founder of
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