If you happened to be at Fiona Solitaires’ outlets in Bandra or Vashi last week, you would have noticed something odd — youngsters walking in, showing attendants that they had crossed level 10 on Pokémon Go, and walking away with a discount on their purchase.
Pokémon merchandise. Pic courtesy/Dream theatre
The jewellery brand recently launched a more affordable range, starting at '2,000, to tap the younger market. And its 33-year-old founder Parag Agrawal, a Pokémon Go player himself, found an ingenious way of drawing in the right customers.
Puppets used in Cold Feet Sock Puppet Troupe’s show
"I was out catching pokémon one night, when I noticed a lot of young people also out on the streets doing the same. That’s when I realised the marketing potential here. We created the Pokémon Go offer for Raksha Bandhan week, and sent out SMSes to high data users at night, a significant percentage of whom we guessed would be players of the game," says Agrawal.
A jewellery brand offered discounts to select Pokémon Go players
"There was a 200 per cent rise in footfall compared to the same time last year, and 70 per cent of them ending up buying jewellery from us," he shares.
Pokemon Go is now a global sensation
And Agrawal isn’t the only one who has caught onto the marketing potential of the game, which became an overnight sensation following its release on July 6, 2016, in the USA, Australia and New Zealand (in the first week, app usage was double that of Facebook). Although still not officially launched in India, everyone from kids to adults have found a way to download and play the game, using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.
Participants of the PoGo Bar Crawl
The global phenomenon soon exploded in Mumbai too, with fans banding together for pokéwalks. There were others too, running with the theme a little differently.
For instance, Eshita Dharia, 23, and Pawan Shahri, 22, founders of Latenight Mumbai, chose to combine the concept of a bar hop and a pokéwalk at the PoGo Bar Crawl, held on August 7, which required participants to visit seven venues — six bars and a restaurant — between Lower Parel and Breach Candy.
"The response was fantastic. We had 200 attendees. The event received a lot of publicity, and even the venues that were part of the crawl did well that night," says Dharia. It was a win-win for everyone.
Two weeks later, Ashwin Choithramani and Raihaan Attawala of the Cold Feet Sock Puppet Troupe put together
a quirky and fun Pokémon-themed sock puppet show at The Hive in Khar, charging an entry fee of '200. "About 30 people attended the show, which isn’t any more than usual. The difference was that these were all new faces.
I think we jumped on the bandwagon too late. If we had done this a few weeks ago, we would have likely had a full house," says Choithramani.
Not just a fad
Does the craze seem to be dying down now? Jiggy George, founder and CEO of Dream Theatre, doesn’t believe so. The company represents Pokémon in India (syndication, licensing and merchandising), and, according to George, the demand for all things Pokémon-related is only rising.
"Kids who grew up watching the show on TV (2003-11) are now hooked on the game. This interest in the brand has also resulted in demand for adult merchandise in apparel, accessories, mobile and computer accessories. The brand has seen over a dozen new deals across new categories being inked, with more in the offing," says George.
He adds, "Once the game is launched officially in India, which should happen in October, there will be plenty more to come. Niantic, the maker of Pokémon Go, has come up with a pricing strategy for brands."
The strategy he’s talking about refers to how local businesses would be able to apply on Niantic’s website to be a Pokéstop or Gym on the game and attract a bigger audience. Pokéstops are where users can stock up on apparatus required in-game and Gyms are where they battle (virtually, of course) players from other teams.
Once this is done, brands could pay to activate a ‘Lure,’ which will attract pokémon in the area to the spot for 30 minutes, bringing in players who are in the neighbourhood, eventually resulting in revenue generation for the brand. It’s a marketing revolution.
Jason Rodrigues, a 21-year-old student at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) in Dadar, has already had this brainwave. His research topic is about eateries using Pokémon Go as a marketing tool. He is already in talks with a restaurant and café in Bandra that’s game to experiment. "We shall try it for a month, and by the end of it, we will know if the move worked," says Rodrigues. If these indications are anything to go by, we need to prepare for yet another big wave of Poké-mania.
>> Companies/individuals who use Pokemon to draw attention to their brand and/or increase sales have to pay licensing fees. It’s no different from using a celebrity to endorse your product.
>> There are various fee models: from a flat fee for usage in communication to a minimum guarantee/royalty model
for merchandise sales.
>> Even those who — in the guise of loving the brand — hold walks or other events but charge money for the same,
will need to take permission from us. If they are making money or using it to gain mileage for their brand, then there has to be remuneration to the Pokemon company.
— Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre