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Pop Mart expands Thailand footprint with new store in Bangkok

China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-10 10:25

A consumer takes selfies with a doll at a Pop Mart outlet in Bangkok on Friday. [Photo/Xinhua]

BANGKOK — Chinese toy company Pop Mart opened its sixth offline store in Bangkok and achieved sales exceeding 10 million yuan ($1.37 million) on its opening day recently.

Setting a new single-day sales record for overseas stores, the art toy company, renowned for its blind box collectibles, is taking Thailand by storm.

Having lined up at the newly opened Labubu-themed offline store overnight, Nok, a big fan of Pop Mart's popular furry doll, told Xinhua that products in Thailand are often sold out within seconds upon being stocked, with many fans even traveling to China to buy them.

"It's adorable. They have various series that are diverse and creatively designed. Their rotating selections of designer toys offer a constant supply of newness, which is a strong appeal to me," said the 33-year-old office worker.

Apart from the colorful, cute and quirky characters, the "crybaby "series created by a Thai designer is also Nok's favorite. The figures are characterized by large, teary eyes and imaginative costumes.

"Its melancholic yet cute appearance resonates with my emotions. It's comforting and relatable," she said.

Pop Mart's collaboration with local artists has sparked promising reactions in the market. For instance, the crybaby series not only made waves in the Thai market, but is also popular in China, the United States and Europe.

"Our core business is to discover outstanding artists worldwide. We seek out potential artists, help them transform their artwork into intellectual property and bring more joy and warmth to customers," said Wang Ning, founder of Pop Mart in a recent interview in Bangkok.

The character-based entertainment company serves as an incubator of artists. It handles artwork production, marketing and distribution for selected artists. It also commercializes and promotes artists' creations through branding, social media campaigns, pop-up events and exhibitions.

Merging art with playful, engaging characters has made the company a key player in the toy industry. By the end of 2023, Pop Mart had opened over 450 offline stores and more than 2,300 Robo Shops in over 30 countries and regions.

The company entered Thailand last September. The unique blind box marketing, as its secret sauce, has been sweeping the Southeast Asian economy.

It features the sale of products in opaque packaging, hiding the items' appearance of special design. What lies within remains a mystery until the seal is broken. Rare or limited editions are mixed in these boxes, adding to the excitement of the unboxing process.

The frequent release of limited edition figures and special series creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency among collectors. Consumers strike to complete their sets, driving repeat purchasing.

"The anticipation of the unknown is addictive. I enjoy the thrill of surprise from unboxing. When you get your desired one, you feel like you have hit the jackpot. If not, we can exchange it with friends from the fan pages," Mint, a 44-year-old Labubu fan who visits the shops every week, told Xinhua.

"When I feel happy, I want a new toy. When I'm upset, the joy of surprise from unboxing heals me. After all, it's affordable," she said.

Beyond purchasing, Mint enjoys a sense of community. She said Pop Mart provides a space online and offline for enthusiasts to come together, and share their passion for discovering new pieces.

The engagement of the fan community mirrors the rich collector culture of Thailand. As a host of 12 international toy fairs, the Southeast Asian country has fostered a vibrant collector market. Thailand boasts a tradition of appreciating art and miniatures, from intricately designed temple models to vibrant street art.

Thai consumers, particularly the younger generation, are drawn to trends and aesthetics. Pop Mart's art toy collectibles, featuring adorable and detailed characters, resonated deeply with this cultural affinity, Justin Moon, president of Pop Mart International, told Xinhua.

He said travel retailing is Pop Mart's next priority in Thailand, as the country is a renowned tourism destination. Besides the capital Bangkok, the company plans to open more stores in popular destinations like Chiang Mai and Phuket.

"In the future, Pop Mart can become more than art toys. We plan to leverage the wave that started with fun, excitement, and surprises as a bridge to new businesses that focus on entertaining consumers, such as theme parks, games, or even animation," Moon said.


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