By: Kelli Windsor, Senior Manager for Member and Digital Communications, Food Marketing Institute
Pokemon Go in a Grocery Store

During his recent keynote address at FMI Connect, Steve Case, entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of America Online, predicted that in the future, “Hyphens will disappear. E-mail will become mail. E-commerce will become commerce.” The idea that the electronic pathway will eventually become the norm is only emphasized by the latest Pokémon Go craze, where reality is becoming augmented reality.

Pokémon Go takes the popular Pokémon game and turns it into reality. Instead of chasing a Pokémon around a computer or TV screen with a controller, players move around the real world while their smartphone’s GPS and clock are used to detect their location and make Pokémon "appear" around them via the phone screen. Players can then go catch the Pokémon and physically participate in the game. Pokémon Go has become wildly popular and it is already being speculated that the app will amass more daily active users than Twitter in the coming days.

Now I know that you might be thinking what does a video game have to do with my food retail business? Well, besides the fact that the same augmented reality technology is already being used in the industry to help educate store employees about food safety and other in-store trainings, the popularity of the game overnight can also teach grocery stores some lessons. Here are some points to consider:

  • For the love of the game - Pokémon Go creates a one-of-a-kind experience for the player and constantly refreshes. No two “games” are the same because it is based on time and player location. It’s the totally unique experience that delights the user and keeps them coming back for more. Think about your store. Does it do that for shoppers? Does it offer a different experience every time your shoppers come through the door? Are these unique experiences only you offer to your customers?
  • Screen time – Last night while walking my dog I literally ran into someone on the sidewalk holding their phone up to their face at an intersection. They were playing Pokémon Go and stood there for a good five minutes. If I can run into this kind of technology while on an evening walk, you can expect to find it in your grocery aisles. How can you use this to your in-store advantage? How can you entice quality digital technology engagements in the aisles that enhance a shopper’s experience?
  • Removing the hyphens – If Pokémon Go is another example of our hyphens disappearing, what are you doing to erase the hyphens in your business model? Is the experience between your store and your online store seamless? In a world where the shopper is demanding a unique and satisfying experience in store they are also looking for the same experience online.

If Pokémon Go is any indication of the future, then it stands to reason that Steve Case’s prediction about disappearance of hyphens and the mainstreaming of technology may be coming true.  


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