By Colin Lee – National Sales Director of Australian Properties International.
Colin LeeThere is no denying it: people around the globe have been gripped in a pandemic. It’s called the Pokémon GO craze, and it affects anyone from the age of five up to 50, taking over their smartphones to entice users on a journey around real landmarks and suburban streets in search of fictional Pokémon characters.
It’s augmented reality, but not as we’ve ever seen it before. Gamers can purchase ‘lure’ tools (with real money) to aid their quest and businesses are cashing in, too, creating Pokémon GO events and collaborating with the game’s creator, Nintendo to pay to have their business shop-fronts listed as Poké-gyms for users to train and strengthen their Poké-pack.
But while many academics are lamenting the downfall of the world as we know it, the gamification of consumer habits also presents an exciting new frontier for businesses all over the world, particularly for the property and real estate industry.
Already savvy agents are using the Pokémon craze to help attract tenants to rent properties and buyers to auctions – but the real opportunities lie not in the game itself, but what this new technology means for the future of real estate marketing and sales.
Take the property and real estate industry for example. Just imagine the possibilities – when prospective buyers purchase a new home off-the-plan in a residential community, not only can they walk through the floor plan of their as-yet-unbuilt apartment (there are plenty of virtual reality providers already offering this service) but imagine taking it one step further and allowing these purchasers to walk the streets, step inside all the planned amenities and buildings, even have a virtual coffee in a virtual café – all from their mobile phone.
Now imagine overlaying avatars - being other prospective or recent purchasers - as superimposed into a virtual blueprint of their future neighbourhood, and enabling buyers to meet and greet each other the virtual streets and even start conversations via messaging services – all from a smartphone App without leaving the comfort of their living room.
There are also endless opportunities for collaborations – imagine developers working with interior designers or furniture retailers to offer virtual plug-ins so users can view how different furniture pieces will look in their home, then use third party APIs to enable purchasing of their favourite package for delivery in line with their new home reaching completion.
The advent of this new technology presents an incredible opportunity for marketers to enhance the user experience and create ‘virtual communities’ that are tangible and real.
It also opens up a swathe of opportunities to sell into different markets, as inspections can comprehensively be experienced from an augmented reality App.
If Pokémon GO has taught us anything – apart from where Pokémon gyms are located and which Pikachus are harder to find, it’s that we have just entered into a new era of the gamification of buyer behaviours. Who knows just where it will take us but the pressure is now on property developers and agents to see who gets there first.