Can Pokémon Go impact commercial real estate?

Posted by MSF Real Estate Capital on August 10, 2016
Can Pokémon Go impact commercial real estate?, MSF Real Capital, Columbus, Ohio, Augmented Reality

How a new augmented reality game is changing things for businesses

Whether or not you know what Pokémon are, you’ve likely heard about the latest millennial craze. You may have even seen people playing, phone in hand, eyes glued to the screen. Overnight it seems nearly everyone was talking about the latest big thing in augmented reality. Can such a game really impact commercial real estate?

Well, it seems to be the case so far. The game is driving foot-traffic to many locations, including historic buildings, businesses, retail locations, and restaurants. So what exactly is Pokémon Go? What started out as a popular video game in the 1990s, Pokémon soon expanded into a world of trading cards, television shows, movies, even apparel. But, as millennials grew into adults, the franchise struggled to maintain relevance.

That is until the beginning of July when all of the sudden Pokémon blasted back into the mainstream with Pokémon Go. As of July 15, 15 million people have downloaded the free app and an estimated 9.5 million of them are playing every day, globally. The game uses your phone's GPS and clock to know exactly where and when you are in the game. Pokémon then “appear” around you, through your phone’s camera, so you can catch Pokémon creatures and collect them. Users travel by car and foot in the real world to catch digital Pokémon in the game. This is augmented reality.

But what does this all have to do with commercial real estate?

Another important aspect of the game includes PokéStops and PokéGyms. PokéStops refill players supplies and PokéGyms are battle arenas where players battle and train their Pokémon. Suddenly, many brick-and-mortar stores are finding that their location is a PokéStop or PokéGym, with players flooding into the store, often bringing in extra revenue. Businesses have begun to advertise, by way of signs and social media, that they are a location players may want to visit.

Others are using the game to attract millennials, for instance, to rental offices in apartment communities. Not only can you engage potential customers, but also drive foot traffic to places you want more people to see.

How are businesses using Pokémon Go to their advantage? Check out these three ways:

  • If a PokéStop is near their location they’ve created a promotion around it
  • Purchase “lures” to make more Pokémon appear around the business for 30 minutes
  • Hosted Pokémon Hunts (for example, an organized bar crawl)

While Pokémon Go and this new world of augmented reality is fairly new, especially in terms of business promotion, if it remains popular there is no telling where the technology may lead. Adapting the technology specifically to support business development activities is certainly a near-term possibility. The technology seems particularly well suited for retail locations and multifamily rental communities as they rely on visits to drive purchases.

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