Singapore firms eye 'luring' customers with Pokemon Go

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: LEE CHEE CHEW

At least three plan to buy 'lures' to draw players to shops, events when game is launched here

Some firms in Singapore are hoping to ride on the popularity of the latest mobile game sensation, Pokemon Go, to attract more business.

At least three companies here - local book retailer Times Publishing Group, as well as fibre broadband service providers ViewQwest and MyRepublic - are planning to buy Pokemon Go "lures" to attract players to their shops and events when the application is launched here.

Even as players try to catch virtual monsters in real-life locations, Times hopes to direct them - especially children aged three to 12 - to its first edutainment event, Happy Sparks, which will be held in November at Singapore Expo.

"Pokemon Go is very popular with children of all ages. We don't think it is the only reason children will come to our event, but it is another attraction," said a spokesman for Times Experience, Times' event management subsidiary. The four-day event will feature mathematics and singing competitions.

It is not known when the augmented-reality game, played through the lens of a smartphone camera, will be launched in Singapore.

But it is now available in more than 20 markets, including the United States, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

It is free to download, but offers in-game purchases.

REACHING OUT

It's about increasing foot traffic. People will see your brand, and we hope it is an opportunity to reach out to them.

MR VIGNESA MOORTHY, chief executive of ViewQwest.

Lures draw the virtual monsters to a particular location and, in turn, also draw players of the game on the hunt for those creatures. Companies pay about US$1 (S$1.30) - or 100 Pokemon gold coins - for each lure, which appears for 30 minutes in the game each time.

ViewQwest plans to boost awareness of its retail outlet at Suntec City by planting lures there, following the example of McDonald's in Japan, whose tie-up with Pokemon Go drew many game-starved diners to its 3,000 outlets.

"It's about increasing foot traffic," said ViewQwest chief executive Vignesa Moorthy, who was in Japan recently. "People will see your brand, and we hope it is an opportunity to reach out to them."

Similarly, MyRepublic wants to use the game's lures "as a fun way to attract crowds to our shops", it said. As the game has yet to be launched here, MyRepublic is not certain where it can buy lures to attract the virtual monsters.

Developed by Niantic, Pokemon Go is already generating revenues of US$10 million daily through the sale of in-game items - such as lures and "Poke Balls" - from about 100 million app installations, according to San Francisco-based market research and analytics firm App Annie.

Assistant Professor Alex Mitchell, from the National University of Singapore's communications and new media department, said businesses should think about how to convert visits to business. "It should work if playing Pokemon Go and the desired outcome, such as eating at McDonald's, are complementary."

Mr Clement Teo, principal analyst at market research firm Ovum, said only companies that have close association with the game will benefit in the long term as lures become commonplace.

"Times, for instance, will benefit if it sells Pokemon collectible game cards," he said. "Another opportunity is to allow gamers to pay for real-world goods in the game using mobile payments."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Firms eye 'luring' customers with Pokemon Go'. Print Edition | Subscribe