Gotta Catch ‘Em All: The Millennial Craze Impacting Local Businesses By Kate Villmann

Pokemon GO logo next to phone

There is nothing better than sitting in a graduate level class and receiving 50 text message alerts from my family group chat. Nothing out of the ordinary, that is, until I saw the context of their conversation. My two brothers, both well into their twenties, are talking about a time and place to go catch Pokémon in my hometown. They discuss childhood hot-spots, such as parks, to “catch ‘em all” and take over gyms. I was entirely confused until I did some digging around on my own and discovered this immense craze that seemed to be sweeping three countries by storm. The virtual-realistic world is “Pokémon Go,” a brand new mobile app that brings to life the hugely popular series of Pokémon. In this world, the user assumes the role of a “Pokémon Trainer,” similar to that of the original show. The overall notion of the app is to travel to various locations, catch Pokémon, and work to obtain and maintain gym locations.

Pokémon Go has launched in various countries throughout North America and Europe but has yet to reach South America, Asia, and Africa- and already has reached over 20 million downloads. Investors are boggled that the app has also increased Nintendo Co. market value nine billions dollars in only a few days, and accrues roughly 1.6 million dollars a day from in-app purchases. Nintendo Co. share price boosted 25% shortly after the app’s launch. In addition, with Pokémon Go, small business owners and different municipal entities have a very interesting opportunity here. Certain locations can become “Pokéstops” serving as desirable destinations for young, ambitious trainers. This can help to increase foot traffic for local businesses - drive sales and brand awareness.

The financial implications this holds is wildly apparent. The social implications is the aspect that most interests onlookers. The app is a pairing of google maps and a Pokémon Universe. The user creates an avatar and directly on the screen and is immersed in the world. The idea of making a video game that gets you up and off the couch is a brand new idea as well. My brother tells me of how the usual desolate areas in my hometown are now lively and buzzing with individuals of all ages experiencing this new phenomenon. I have heard testimonies that this game is both sweat-inducing and true to the name. Offering an experience that creates a social environment for the “gamer crowd” has proven to be very successful thus far. The nostalgia factor alone helps with a strong following.

The ability to go digitally viral in today’s internet-centric world is a major goal for companies regardless of its offerings. Pokémon Go has opened up a whole new avenue for driving foot traffic for local businesses. Who would have thought that companies would be buying “Pokéstops” to drive business.

So while I sit learning about business law, my brothers are trying to devise how to become Pokémon Masters. Go figure!