One solution to harnessing Millennial spending power might just be at your fingertips--or the tip of your thumb, to be exact. This week, augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go has gotten Millennials out on the streets chasing Pikachu and his friends. Businesses are employing varying tactics to cash in on that good old-fashioned foot traffic.

First, a refresher: Players (called trainers) use an app that projects Pokémon onto real-life surroundings. 

Trainers follow Pokémon, swiping to catch as many as possible, collect rewards at PokéStops, battle other trainers at Gyms, and team up to defend their territory.


That's where the business opportunity comes in. The game drives Trainers between designated PokéStops and Gyms--often public areas where trainers can gather. If you're lucky enough to be near one of these hotspots, you're probably seeing an increase in foot traffic, and there are several things you can do to capture customers that don't involve throwing a Pokéball at them.

Some businesses are trying out discounts for Pokémon Go players, stirring up online interest and social-media buzz. Rick and Ron Saar, brothers who own a sweetFrog franchise in Williamsport, Virginia, announced tiered discounts for players on different levels.

Though they don't know much about the game, Rick Saar says other franchise owners were discussing tactics in an online forum, so they decided to try one out. "I don't think it will be a long-lived thing, just several weeks to a few months maybe," he says. "We're always having some kind of discount: T-shirt Tuesday, school colors on Friday--this is just the latest thing."

But not every business is the best fit for a Pokémon Go discount. Clientele at Bosie Tea Parlor in New York City haven't taken much advantage of the 10 percent discount offered to players, says Jessica, its manager. She started the deal after a customer requested it, but since then hasn't had many customers--whom she are aged 25 years old and up--cash in on the discount.

For businesses whose customer base isn't the type to chase a Bunnelby down the street, there are options to attract people who may not normally visit. Playing Pokémon Go can be exhausting, especially in the summer heat. And the constant phone use required to chase Fletchlings and Froakies drain trainers' batteries. Probably the easiest thing you can do be a part of the craze and attract customers into your store is offer water and charging stations.

Post Office Pies in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, whose customers include a lot of college students, thought there was potential for a Pokémon Go promotion. When some employees, including general manager Joe Koen, played the game and noticed a lot of people in their area were also playing, they decided to offer Trainers a 10 percent discount on weekdays.

Though he hasn't seen a lot of engagement with the discounts yet, Koen says he'll keep offering the deal through the end of the summer, when students of nearby University of Alabama return. "Finding something fun like this is nice," Koen says. "It gets people out and about, and hopefully they come have a pie with us before they go out chasing Pokémon."

Published on: Jul 12, 2016