Aug 18, 2016Farmers markets, farms use Pokemon Go to draw customers
Farmers markets and farm marketers are tapping into the Pokemon Go phenomenon to attract visitors and customers. The app has reached more than 30 million downloads in the U.S., and as many as 25 million smartphone users in one day, according to SurveyMonkey Intelligence.
With this kind of reach, farmers markets and farms are hosting Pokemon Go-themed events and challenges.
Downtown Dalton Farmers Market
The Downtown Dalton Famers Market in Dalton, Georgia, partnered with local organizations to host a Pokemon Go-themed market. The event featured giveaways for Pokemon trainers visiting the farmers market. Users of the mobile app, or Pokemon trainers, collect and train Pokemon characters.
The farmers market’s proximity to PokeStops, locations where users can collect Pokeballs to catch Pokemon, contributed to the event’s success, said market manager Tanner Jaco.
“We were very lucky in that we were in the right place at the right time,” she said. “You have to make sure your farmers market is close to stops that already exist because that’s really going to be your draw.”
The Downtown Dalton Farmers Market is located near five PokeStops, with more than 27 PokeStops in the downtown area, Jaco said.
“I’ve seen quite a few more people venturing in asking about the PokeStops and then they notice the fresh produce,” she said.
While PokeStop locations are currently predetermined by the app’s developer Niantic Labs, lures can be purchased in the app to attract Pokemon and customers to a particular PokeStop. Jaco said several lures were purchased for the market’s event.
“If you put a lure on a PokeStop, surrounding Pokemon will come to that area,” Jaco said. “The higher level you are, the Pokemon that are drawn are higher level.”
The Downtown Dalton Farmers Market, held on Saturdays from May through August, features various themes throughout the season.
“If Pokemon Go is still popular I would like to have something like this more frequently,” she said.
Through the Pokemon Go-themed market, visitors are learning about the famers market and what it offers – even if a sale isn’t made, Jaco said.
“The more foot traffic, the better. It’s just increasing awareness and getting people to our downtown market that might not necessarily have been there before,” she said.
South Lansing Farmers Market
The South Lansing Farmers Market in Lansing, Michigan uses Facebook to promote itself as a “PokeMarket,” according to market manager Danielle Gyger. The market has used the slogan “All the coolest Pokemon Go to the market” in its PokeMarket posts.
The farmers market is located near two PokeStops and is set up next a PokeGym, where users can battle and train Pokemon.
The South Lansing Farmers Market hosted its inaugural PokeMarket event in mid-July. Lures were purchased and placed in the Pokemon Go app for four hours, attracting the game’s users to the market. The farmers market has continued using lures during the market, held Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“We tried to really get it out to the masses that we were doing this PokeMarket and a ton of people showed up and supported that,” Gyger said.
The PokeMarket was promoted through a post in a Pokemon Go Facebook group, the famers market’s own Facebook page and flyers.
The market has also started having Pokemon Challenges during its monthly festivals. During the challenge, Pokemon Go users must screenshot their Pokemon catch, make a purchase at the market and talk about the farmers market on social media, either by checking in on Facebook or using the market’s hashtag. Those who complete the challenge are entered into raffles for items donated by the market’s vendors.
“It’s been really positive for us. It’s so easy to buy a lure and to advertise it,” Gyger said. “(You can) not only supply the lures and charging stations and make it accommodating for them, but also take advantage of that and do educational activities that might fit that demographic.”
Jennifer Beaver, co-owner of Tanners Orchard in Speer, Illinois, is introducing Pokemon Go to the farm’s u-pick operations by painting 6-foot straw bales to look like Pikachu, a popular Pokemon, and a PokeBall, used to catch Pokemon. Tanners Orchard is a PokeStop in Pokemon Go.
The farm has a $3 entrance fee to the u-pick, which features straw bales throughout the orchard painted as popular characters. This year’s characters will also include Superman, Batman and Nemo.
Visitors often take pictures with the painted straw bales, Beaver said. She said she encourages them to share those photos on social media.
“The more exposure you can get through that, I think that really helps drive business too,” Beavers said. “It’s a good way to draw people; word of mouth is the best advertising you can have.”
Beavers said Pokemon Go events have potential to draw new customers to agritaiment farms.
“Some farms have an entrance fee just to get on the farm, so setting up an event on the farm might be worth it because people would have to pay to get in the farm [and participate],” she said. “That’s one way to draw customers to their place, and once [visitors are] there, they’re getting exposure and see what else is going on in the farm.”
Pokemon Go has the potential to attract more than just teenagers and young adults, Beavers said.
“A lot of families are [playing Pokemon Go] together. The parents don’t want the kids walking around by themselves,” she said.
“So if you can get the parents and the kids out here, they catch some Pokemon and then they put the phone down and see what’s going on around them.”
— Ana Olvera, digital content editor