Is Pokemon Go a Boon for Shoe Stores?

Pokemon Go is taking the world by storm. It has youth in America and around the world outside and walking in search of PokeStops and Pokemon. As players walk around town, they can pick up equipment that helps them in the game at local landmarks, and can capture Pokemon to fight on their teams at Pokemon Gyms. They may even find Pokemon eggs that require the player to walk 2.5, 5 or as much as 10 kilometers before they hatch into Pokemon. Aside from players wearing out their shoes from all that walking, they are walking past and into retailers, even shoe retailers as they play the game.

Key locations are based on landmarks, which may be something as minor as an old building dedication site, or some publicly displayed work of art. These locations attract players searching for game equipment. They can also be equipped with a special “lure” that draws Pokemon to the site for players to catch. Many retailers are spending a few dollars to buy these lures in hopes of drawing masses of Pokemon players and potential customers to their stores.

A recent article in Footwear News calls this new game technology an opportunity for footwear retailers who understand the type of customer attracted by this technology and who are ready with marketing techniques and promotions that match their interests.

At a minimum it’s a way to keep impatient kids occupied while their parents shop for shoes for the entire family. Kids will actually look forward to a trip to the shoe store as long as it is near a PokeStop or is likely to have active Pokemon lures. As a parent, if one store is more likely to keep the kids happy, that’s the one I’d choose. Especially if I’m shopping for something like shoes, where I need to select shoes and try them on the kids one at a time, until we find a pair that fits, is comfortable, and that they like.

The Pokemon Go craze isn’t limited to kids. Those who grew up playing videogames tend to keep playing them into adulthood. If these games add an element of fitness by encouraging people to get outside and walk more, then they may have broad appeal to the Fitbit crowd as well. Industry watchers are predicting a wave of augmented reality games after the unprecedented success of Pokemon Go. All of these games will have people out and walking. Many will provide opportunities for local businesses to attract potential customers to their stores. Closing the sale, of course, will still depend upon the retailer being able to take advantage of this new foot traffic.

Shoe retailers have the extra advantage of watching Pokemon Go players wear out the soles of their shoes as they play the game whether they stop into the shoe store or not. Once the shoes wear out from all that walking, they’ll be back.