CBME China 2024

17-19 July 2024 | National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), Shanghai, China

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POP MART: How the designer toy market in China is booming

Article by Daxue Consulting  Daxue Insights

According to Euromonitor,
the total retail sales of toys and games in China soared from RMB 135.6
billion in 2013 to RMB 324.1 billion in 2018, an average annual growth
rate of 19.1%. However, not all these toy consumers are children.

The designer toy market in China has
taken off in the last years. According to Wang Ning, the founder of POP
MART, the designer toy trend started in Hong Kong in the 1990s and was
influenced by Japan, South Korea, and the West in the 2000s. The trend
is inevitable, given the country’s strong economy, he says.

More and more young adults have become designer toy consumers in China

Designer toys, also called art toys, are toys and collectibles created
by artists and designers which are usually made from vinyl and riffed
off of pop culture tropes (hip-hop, graffiti, Japanese Manga culture).
Not long ago, designer toy collectors in China were still a very small
community. However, things are changing quickly. More and more young
adults have become designer toy consumers in China.


What Is a Blind Box?

boxes are all the same on the outside but have a unique minifigure on
the inside, which are designed by different designers or artists.
Palm-sized plastic figurines are individually packaged into opaque
polybags and sold separately in so-called blind boxes (Chinese:盲盒).
Normally, each character series consists of 12 figures. 12 blind boxes
make up one package, and 12 packages comprise one carton. That means,
one carton has 144 minifigures in total, in which 12 different styles
are randomly distributed.

In all 12 styles, one minifigure will be chosen as so-called mystery style and
there will always only be one piece in all 144 blind boxes. That keeps
many blind box enthusiasts purchasing more to complete their
collections. Because you never know what piece you are going to get,
those determined to complete their collection may buy all 144 blind
boxes at once. Almost all blind boxes are sold at the same price of 59
RMB (8 USD), that is maybe not cheap for a palm-sized plastic doll, yet
not pricy enough to keep collectors stopping buying over and over. Last
year, about 4 million pieces of Molly, one of the most popular character
in the designer toy market in China, have been sold.


toy consumers in China often show off their collections on social
media. They also discuss and exchange dolls with each other on art toy
community/e-commerce platforms such as PAQU (葩趣) or secondhand platform like Xianyu (咸鱼) from Alibaba. There are also dealers who earn big money by selling popular blind boxes they have collected. 


What is POP MART

According to POP MART itself, it is a lifestyle retailing company,
following the brand spirit “MAKE SOMETHING FUN!”. POP MART was founded
in 2010 and sold various categories of lifestyle commodities, including
toy, home, digital, beauty etc. However, in the recent years, POP MART
has discovered the unfulfilled need and enthusiasm for designer toys of
Chinese young adults. Since then, POP MART has changed its strategy and
shifted its focus in the designer toy market in China.


POP MART offers designers an “all-inclusive service” from production to
marketing to distribution. Meanwhile, POP MART is running over 30
stores at fine shopping malls in 14 cities in China. It also owns over
200 so-called Roboshops (automated vending machines) across the country. 

China Designer Toy Exhibition

POP MART is also behind the Beijing and Shanghai Toy ShowMore
than 300 designers from China, Japan, South Korea, the United States,
and Europe attended the latest Beijing Toy Show 2019 in August. POP MART
introduced designer toy exhibitions to China mainland with Beijing Toy
Show 2017 (BTS). The art toy exhibitions have had great influence
throughout Asia. These
events not only offer opportunities for fans to meet their beloved
artists and purchase special designer toys; but also, artists from
various countries can get together and organize some wonderful
collaborations. For POP MART, it is the most effective way to discover
promising artists and find cooperation opportunities.