Pokemon Go

Hong Kong businesses have cashed in on Pokemon Go and are still optimistic despite waning excitement for game

Malls, hotels and startups all report reaping rewards from Pokemon-related promotions, but global data shows game has lost 10 million users since July

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2016, 1:21pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2016, 7:33pm

Augmented reality smartphone game Pokemon Go has proved to be a successful marketing tool for brands trying to cash in on the craze even as initial excitement wanes.

The game, which launched in Hong Kong at the end of July, allows players to use their phones’ GPS to hunt for Pokemon – short for Pocket Monsters – in the real world.

Shopping malls, hotels and small startups have offered promotions or Pokemon-related activities to draw in crowds who flood the streets hunting for the virtual creatures.

Catch them if you can: Hong Kong malls quick to lure Pokemon ... and shoppers

Sun Hung Kai Properties, a major property developer in Hong Kong, said their game-related promotional campaigns have helped boost business revenue and customer traffic at five of their shopping malls by 10 per cent shortly after the game was released.

Lure Modules, an item that draws Pokemon to appear at a location for 30 minutes, were used in Sun Hung Kai’s malls to attract customers.

Mall-goers snapped up free gifts and coupons upon a minimum spending of HK$1,000, with visitors spending an average of HK$2,500 per person, the company said.

Ovolo Southside, a boutique hotel converted from a former industrial warehouse in Wong Chuk Hang, said their six-week campaign – which included promotions such a free night’s stay for the first 20 guests to catch 50 Pokemon, as well as Pokemon-themed drinks – helped push demand for room bookings and sales at their restaurant and rooftop bar.

Pokemon fever too good to resist for struggling HK retailers

“What’s most important though, is that the campaign generated new interest among people we consider our target audience – millennials who may have previously had limited exposure to the Ovolo brand before,” hotel manager Kim Jiho said.

Wei, a Hong Kong-based mobile app that updates users on the latest news and information, saw their user base increase by six-fold to over 30,000 after adding Pokemon Go as a topic that customers could subscribe to.

Interest in the game however, is showing signs of dying down. The number of daily active users worldwide peaked at 45 million in mid-July and is starting to decline, Bloomberg reported, citing information from mobile app data tracker Apptopia.

Watch out, Tinder: Pokemon Go is new way to find love – by bumping into people

The game, which Apple said broke the app store record for most downloads in a week, has lost more than 10 million players since then, data showed.

Despite the downward trend, Sun Hung Kai Properties said they were investing another HK$1.8 million for a range of promotional activities in September, which would include organising game tournaments and pop-up stores.

“Pokemon Go has been released in Taiwan, Singapore and several other neighbouring countries since August. The game will attract more players and the fervour is bound to continue,” Fiona Chung, manager of Sun Hung Kai real estate agency said.

Conglomerate Sino Group, which held Pokemon-related activities at six of their shopping malls, and Ovolo Southside said they had no plans to extend their promotional campaigns yet.