Pokémon Promotion Power: Restaurants Catching Lightning in a Bottle

Within five days of its July 6 release, Pokémon Go was played more in the United States than the next 99 most popular apps combined, according to data from the AppQuest.io CrowdSource Community, where millions of global consumers anonymously donate real-time app usage and performance data on more than six million app versions.

As of July 12, Pokémon Go made up 41.5 percent of all Android game usage. For comparisons sake, the next most popular game, Words with Friends garnered only 3.5 percent of all U.S. gameplay.

Seeking to capture guests as they’re capturing Pokémon, many restaurants are ramping up promotional efforts. Matt Smith, sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt’s CMO, told Modern Restaurant Management magazine that typically, the brand’s marketing promotions are planned out several months – to over a year in advance.

“So, this was a direct result of the game hitting the market and the immediate interest expressed by our local stores and franchise owners,” he said. “This was a promotion conceived and put into action in about 72 hours.”

The key to pulling it all together, Smith explained, was to do as much research as quickly as possible so that any promotion actually made sense to the game players and would be easily understood and managed by shop employees.sweetFrog Pokemon 7[1]

“We all started playing the game immediately just to see how it worked and we reached out to friends and others we knew could provide insight,” said Smith. “Articles were coming out almost hourly, so we also did a lot of research in a very short amount of time …  thanks to the internet!”

In fact, sweetFrog’s promotion provides a public service offering a safe haven in this weekend’s anticipated heatwave. The shops launched a Pokémon GO Takeover (July 22-24) – offering Pokémon GO players an air-conditioned pit stop and a cool yogurt treat at a heavily discounted price (up to 50 percent off any in-store purchase) according to the level players have achieved in the game.sweetFrog Pokemon 1[1]

With many sweetFrog locations already designated as “PokéStops” and/or located in shopping centers designated as “PokéGyms,” all sweetFrog locations are expecting a massive turnout this weekend, according to Smith. The Pokémon GO phenomenon has already generated serious in-store traffic and social media engagement for some sweetFrog owners.  For example, the sweetFrog in Williamsport, PA launched a boosted Facebook post announcing a series of Pokémon GO in-store discounts on July 12.  That single post, which cost the local owners only $30, inspired more than 250 reactions, 210 shares and 80 comments on Facebook and was directly responsible for a 30 percent increase in food sales on the first day alone as customers showcased Pokémon they caught inside the store.

Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. is taking an interesting twist on the trend offering anyone over the drinking age who shows the bartender that they caught one at the restaurant the chance to order a Pikachu-yellow Pineapple Margarita made with tequila, puréed pineapple, triple sec, lime juice, and the energy drink Monster. At least three Pokémon are found in the restaurant located on the balcony of Grand Central Terminal overlooking the Beaux-Arts main concourse.MJ Logo