Get All Access for $5/mo

Cashing In On Pokémon Go: Six Ways MENA Brands Can Benefit From The Viral Game Taking Over The World Companies that will be first to find a way to capitalize on the game's concept here have a great opportunity to attract and engage with current and new customers across the globe, investing just a fraction of their marketing budget.

By James Pass

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Matthew Corley /

By now, you have probably already heard of Pokémon Go, the mobile game that has its players move throughout the real world to hunt for and capture digital Pokémon. With the game yet to officially debut in the region, you might consider it irrelevant to your business at first, yet companies that will be first to find a way to capitalize on the game's concept here have a great opportunity to attract and engage with current and new customers across the globe, investing just a fraction of their marketing budget. If you haven't looked at how your business can benefit from the massive cultural phenomenon, it's really about time!

Pokémon Go is one of the most important new advancements in gaming in over a decade. In less than a week after the launch, the game has experienced the same levels of daily interaction as Twitter, Snapchat and even Facebook with people spending around 4-6 hours a day playing the game. Many companies now use the new game as a very cost effective viral marketing tool worldwide. So the question is, how can a seemingly niché mobile game benefit businesses in this particular region?

1. Catch them all- as potential customers We must admit that everything starts with exploration and research. In order to benefit from the game, first, it will be essential to understand its concept. If you have an opportunity to download and try the game yourself, or simply read and research about it online, that should be a part of your business agenda or weekend plans. As the game uses location-based algorithms to place the Pokémon around town, understanding the key landmarks such as Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops and its whereabouts to your business would be your first step. While brands can't choose the sites for these (at least not right now), some lucky enough have found themselves on the map in the center of the players' activities- which presents an opportunity that can help them convert virtual players into real customers.

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2016: Amy Cole, Head of Brand Development EMEA, Instagram

2. Tailor your marketing offering Brands around town can now engage with game users by tailoring their marketing strategy around the new augmented reality game. From capitalizing on offering free Wi-Fi to granting a giveaway for catching Pokémon, there are numerous ways brands can now attract and engage with their customers online and offline. Shopping malls, restaurants, and small stores can use the game as part of their overall marketing strategy, by offering discounts for customers with certain Pokémon tribes, organizing meet up sessions, developing special offerings for guests. Businesses will need to think out of the box to find a way to complement their offering. For example, Dubai Metro could easily capitalize by bringing awareness of their free Wi-Fi at their stations, as well as multiple terminals across the city that allows users to find and catch new types of Pokémon without having to walk in the summer heat. If you are in an automotive industry, feel free to offer your customers "Pokémon tours" that will help catch the creatures faster.

3. Drive customer engagement online There are many ways brands can take advantage of Pokémon Go to increase brand visibility on social media and connect with their target audience online. With a few easy steps, you can encourage Pokémon players to win prizes, get discounts or meet new friends in your store. Just keep it fun and simple, and people will come to you. Take a photo, tag, post and share– some of the simplest tactics for your customers to follow. Marketers can also advertise their campaigns on social media channels (i.e. Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter), organize educational webinars or online chats.

4. Be helpful Augmented reality games can quickly "kill" smartphone batteries. Shops or telecom operators can be of help to Pokémon Go players by turning their numerous venues into "charging stations." This will not only support the gamers and build brand loyalty, but will also increase the foot traffic to your store.

Related: How To Turn An Idea Into A Successful Business

5. Launch smart activation campaigns If you are in the event industry or planning to launch a new product/service by yourself, you can plan it bearing in mind Pokémon players' hot spots like Pokémon Gyms and PokeStops. You can even design creative merchandise and marketing collaterals for your guests to stay engaged.

6. Host meetups and unite fans Meetups are a great way to attract people into stores, and thus enhance brand visibility. For example, if you were lucky to be gifted with a Gym at your location, you can host virtual battles with real awards for the winning team. For businesses that were not so fortunate to be located near game's key hubs, there are still numerous opportunities- you just need to be more creative. Use "lure modules" and attract lovely creatures to your location. Or why not set up a food station to energize hungry Pokémon hunters with filling snacks– such options are easy and inexpensive ways of increasing foot traffic.

Being on top of viral trends is becoming essential for businesses to stand out and survive in the saturated market. Small and medium companies now have a great opportunity to build and grow their business without spending much on advertising and big marketing campaigns. Keeping customers close to your heart, following their interests, and understanding their needs allows brands to engage with their target audience on a deeper level, helping your brand remain relevant and fresh.

So, how is your brand going to benefit from Pokémon Go?

Related: Five Minutes With Entrepreneur Dany El Eid, Founder, Pixelbug

James Pass

Founder, James Pass Design

James Pass is a passionate entrepreneur, international brand consultant and accomplished graphic design expert with nearly 20 years of global experience. Before opening James Pass Design (JPd), he spent nearly two decades establishing himself as a lead design director at global branding agencies such as Fitch, Minale Tattersfield Design and Landor Associates.

Founded in late 2012, JPd is a branding and design agency in Dubai’s creative business hubs, Media City and Downtown Dubai. James opened the branding agency in Dubai after spotting a split in the creative industry and a lack of branding expertise for startups within MENA region. Design studios were either not commercially minded for first-time entrepreneurs starting out, or agencies were too large that they lacked the personal human touch to their client relationships. JPd was created with the aim to fill this gap, delivering the quality of boutique, bespoke design and strategically commercial mindset.

Science & Technology

How Generative AI Is Revolutionizing the Travel Industry

GenAI won't displace travel agents; instead, it will enhance their efficiency, enabling them to focus on crafting tailored experiences that resonate with travelers on a deeper level.


Dubai-Born Playbook Wants To Help You Access The Best F&B Offers And Experiences Across The Emirate

If you ever find yourself bored and out of things to do or try in Dubai, the new Playbook app is for you.


Redefining Boundaries: The Key Innovations Driving The Blockchain Revolution Forward

Blockchain technology is revolutionizing industries far beyond its cryptographic origins.


A Blueprint For The Evolution Of The SME Sector In The Middle East

With technological change occurring exponentially, the revolution puts innovation at the heart of national competitive advantage. GCC countries will need a new wave of capable SMEs to stay relevant to this new ecosystem.

Health & Wellness

The Top 10 Fastest Growing Industries in 2024

Thanks to tech breakthroughs and consumer demand, these industries are expected to boom in 2024.