Pokemon Go may threaten daily deal sites like Groupon
POKEMON Go looks set to challenge young Internet companies which specialise in increasing foot traffic for small businesses and may end up playing a role in major brands' marketing, according to industry experts.
The augmented reality game from Japan's Nintendo, where players walk around real-life neighbourhoods to hunt down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, has more than 65 million users in the United States just seven days after launch.
That is more users than Twitter and the game is already helping local restaurants, coffee shops and small retailers to attract new customers.
That sort of instant effect is a potential threat for Groupon, LivingSocial, Foursquare and other relatively new companies which have revolutionised online marketing for small businesses in the last few years.
Such "daily deal" sites get a cut every time a customer buys a retailer's coupon.
Marketing experts said small businesses may increasingly turn to Pokemon Go - and redirect some of their marketing budget - as the mobile game racks up a bigger user base.
"With Pokemon Go, you are seeing it as bypassing a lot of digital (marketing) channels that the brick-and-mortar shops have been relying on for the past few years," said Christophe Jammet, director of social media and mobile at consultancy DDG in New York.
"There hasn't been a geolocation social platform that can lure so many people all at once."
Pokemon Go players are spending far more time on the app than some of the most popular social apps such as Instagram and messaging services WhatsApp and Snapchat, said SimilarWeb, a market intelligence and Web analytics firm.
Many shops are attracting customers by advertising themselves as Poke Stops, a place where gamers can grab new Poke Balls and increase their level of power.
Experts said it is only a matter of time before major brands jump on the bandwagon.