In the current era of "entertainment first", "trendy toys" that integrate popular culture and artists' personal characteristics, show independence and distinctive personality, and have collection value have become the favorite pursued by young people around the world. However, the popularity of blind boxes has also brought an explosion to the trend toys.
In China, Chinese brands such as Bubble Mart, 52TOYS, Twelve Buildings Culture, and Unicorn have sprung up and made great achievements. However, after swarming into the market, the popularity of blind boxes gradually declined and the domestic market became saturated. In order to continue to maintain rapid development, China ChaoPlay brand needs to find a broader market. Going to sea seems to have become the "best choice".
However, the overseas market environment is complex: Japan, which has a long history of "hip-hop", South Korea, which is known as a "trendy distribution center", North America, which has deeply cultivated trendy culture, and many emerging markets that have not yet been fully "developed" have their own unique charm and advantages. How to choose Chinese fashion play brands? Is there a "standard answer" for sailing? Recently, we talked with Twelve Buildings Culture, Bubble Mart and 52TOYS about the overseas "utopia" of China.
The "touchstone" of Chaoplay brand: Japan
When it comes to the history of trendy toys, it can be traced back to Japan and Hong Kong in the 1990s. The blind box of the recent fire is no stranger to Japanese consumers. As early as the Meiji period, Japanese shops launched a "blessing bag" - businesses put a variety of goods into cloth bags or boxes for sale, and consumers did not know what kind of goods they would buy in advance. This kind of marketing method, which makes full use of the curiosity of consumers, has made fortune bags very popular.
The egg twist toy, which is closer to the blind box, appeared in the 1960s and rose in the 1980s. The so-called twist egg is to put toys with the same theme into a translucent "egg shaped" plastic box, and consumers get dolls in a random way. It is reported that the first egg twist craze in Japan was the "Muscle Man Eraser" launched by Japan's largest toy manufacturer, Bandai, which once achieved a sales performance of 180 million in four years. In addition to its "novel" playing method, the success of Twisting Egg can not be separated from the popularity of IP behind the doll. With the development of trendy toys, IP has also become the core competitiveness.
As Mr. Wang Biao, founder of Twelve Buildings Culture, said: "Japan is the source and 'boss' of IP, so whatever I want to do or prove, I must go to this market and show my strength... Tokyo, as the city of modern animation IP, is a place where we must show and test ourselves."
Indeed, the Japanese hip-hop market driven by strong IP is very developed, and there are many derivatives around a single big IP. It is reported that the Japanese hip-hop IP initially relied more on anime works such as "The Pirate King", "Naruto" and "High Mobile Soldier". This is also the reason why many Japanese fashion dolls have strong story and cultural attributes behind them. Of course, as time goes by, more and more products based on designers' ideas have been accepted by Japanese consumers.
Among them, in addition to the old giants like Bandai BE@RBRICK It is definitely a classic case in the fashion industry. At first, Medicom Toy also launched derivative dolls based on animation and film works. Now, thanks to the BE@RBRICK The building block bear, Medicom Toy, has successfully completed the circle. In addition to Medicom Toy, Sonny Angel of Dreams, a toy manufacturer, and To Fu of DEVILROBOTS are also representatives of Japanese trend toys.
In fact, in the Japanese hip-hop market, there are great differences between the types of products that boys and girls like. Among them, male consumers prefer cool models like Gouda and the Pirate King. Girls are more interested in surprise toys represented by blind boxes.
According to the Survey Results of Toy Market Size in 2019 (April 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020) released by Japan Toy Association in July 2020, the size of Japan's toy market is about 815.3 billion yen. Among them, the three categories with the largest sales volume in the Japanese toy market are card games, educational toys, models and hobby toys. Hand made models are included in models and hobby toys, accounting for 17% of the market. In addition, surprise toys built around IP, such as blind boxes, have also been welcomed by consumers (young girls) since 2018.
In Japan, whether it is a model that male consumers like or a doll that female consumers like, for the Chinese ChaoPlay brand that goes to sea, it is much easier to open the market for overseas consumers to identify with the image of the product itself and the story behind it than for "forced export" of the culture attached to the product.
Just as when asked how to capture overseas customers, Mr. Wang Biao, founder of the Twelve Buildings Culture, said: "Don't export culture directly. Instead, we should first seize the common humanity of domestic and foreign consumers, and then create products in a symbolic and visual way to export the ideas and culture we want to convey. In this regard, the grass and facial features on the head of our Changcao Yantuan are its symbols. Based on this symbol, we will make adjustments according to the preferences of consumers in different markets."
As a pan entertainment consumer company based on image IP, the Twelve Buildings Culture, founded in 2014, operates hundreds of original animation images, including "Long Grass Yan Tuanzi", "GON's Marmot", "Little Ginger", and "Cool Girl". Among them, Changcao Yantuanzi, once known to the public with WeChat expression, has now become a representative of the twelve cultures. It has been exported overseas through online channels such as Facebook, Line, Twitter, TikTok, and offline channels such as baby machines and eggs, and has won a large number of fans in Japan, the United States, Mexico and Southeast Asia.
Japan is a key market for the cultural layout of the Twelve Buildings. As Mr. Wang Biao said, Japan is a "touchstone" for trendy toy brands. Previously, Shidodong Culture also reached a cooperation with Bandai Group of Japan. Yantuanzi Nagasawa successfully settled in Bandai's new largest egg twisting machine shop in Tokyo. In addition, Changcaoyan Tuanzi is also spread in Japan through online expressions, offline exhibitions, books and other ways. It is reported that at the end of April this year, the Chinese teaching book co authored by Shidodong Culture and Japan's J リチチチチチチチヴリリーーチチチチチチ125.
For the Twelve Buildings culture, the distribution of overseas markets through offline partners and online channels is only one part of it. With the improvement of overseas users' awareness and recognition of their products, offline flash stores, direct stores, etc. will gradually be completed.
The place where the trend starts: South Korea
Since the 1990s, with the rise of local film and television dramas, idol groups, pop songs and other entertainment industries, Korean trend culture has extended its tentacles to all parts of the world, setting off a global craze for Korean trend, and making South Korea a hub of trends. Especially in the Asia Pacific region, the Korean Wave has been a synonym for fashion for a long time.
South Korea, which has always been very sensitive to trends, naturally feels the heat of trendy toys. In fact, in the field of trendy toys, South Korea started earlier than China. As early as 2014, the "role industry" represented by trendy dolls has entered the fast lane of development. Like Chinese consumers, Korean young people who are "entertainment oriented" also have "emotional" needs for products. For them, trendy toys are not only ornaments with collection value, but also a way of "mixed circle", a channel of communication, and even the capital of "Dese". This also allows the "role economy" to develop rapidly in South Korea. According to statistics, since 2014, the size of the Korean role market has continued to grow at an average annual growth rate of 7.8%. In 2019, the market size of Korean character industry represented by trendy toys reached about 71.311 billion yuan.
In addition, South Korea has also become more diversified in terms of playing IP. According to a survey on "My Favorite Role" of consumers released in 2019, Kakao Friends and Penguin Baolulu from South Korea ranked first and second with 26.8% and 10.5% respectively, while the third and fourth were Crayon Xiaoxin with 5.3% and Marvel with 4.4%. In addition, in the popularity ranking, pet elves and crayons from Japan are also very popular in South Korea.
It can be seen that both characters created around classic animation and original works that convey designer ideas are more easily accepted by Korean consumers who are "trendy". This is one of the reasons why Bubble Mart, "Chaoyou Maotai", takes South Korea as the first stop of its overseas journey.
In September 2020, Bubble Mart opened its first offline direct store (also known as "No. 1 Store") in Jiangnan District, Seoul (Note: Seoul Rich Area), targeting its main users as the "high-income class" who pursue trends and have high consumption capacity. In April 2021, Bubble Mart's No. 2 store in South Korea will open in L'PARK, Jiangbei District, where Chaoplay and hand-operated stores are gathered, and the enthusiasts of Chaoplay and hand-operated stores here will be the main users.
For Bubble Mart, which has summarized a set of playing methods in the overseas market layout, in addition to the geographical location of South Korea (the supply chain of Bubble Mart is all in China) and consumption capacity (the per capita GDP of South Korea in 2020 is more than 31000 dollars, ranking 25th in the world), the most important thing is to have a sensitive sense of trends, making it the first choice of Bubble Mart.
According to Mr. Wen Deyi, Vice President of Bubble Mart and President of Overseas Business： "Bubble Mart began to explore the overseas market in 2018. In front of us are more than 200 countries and regions to choose from. Through the analysis of the target countries' economic volume, resident income, population, urbanization rate and other indicators, we selected about 20 countries and regions suitable for the current entry, that is, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and North America. And South Korea as the first stop to go to sea, in addition to Chinese culture In addition, South Korea's entertainment industry is very mature, and people are highly sensitive to fashion and trends. More importantly, South Korea's trends have a certain international influence. Every time there are some new entertainment content and topics in South Korea, they will be quickly transmitted to Southeast Asia. "
In addition, when talking about Korean consumers' preferences for trendy toys, Mr. Wen Deyi said: "Through research, we found that the portraits of overseas customers and domestic customers overlap a lot. This is mainly reflected in gender and age. Domestic and overseas consumers are basically 75% female users and 25% male users, and the age is stable in the 15-35 age range. In addition, from the aesthetic perspective of trendy toys, South Korea, or most of the eastern consumers prefer more sophisticated and lovely products 。”
The IP images of Kakao Friends and LINE Friend, the hottest in South Korea, are very soft and cute. Kakao Friends is the emoticon pack launched by KakaoTalk, the largest mobile chat tool in South Korea. Later, various peripheral products were derived around the IP, including trendy dolls. Like Bubble Mart, Kakao Friends' offline stores are also located in Seoul's Jiangnan District. And the famous LINE Friends, which came out as a sticker of the mobile communication software LINE, now has many derivatives. In addition to Kakao and LINE, there are Sticky Monster Lab with the theme of "small monsters" in the Korean market, as well as old fashion toy brands like Hands in Factory.
Hot land on the other side of the ocean: North America
Compared with the Chinese fashion game market, which is still in its infancy, the United States and Canada, which are far across the ocean, are more mature. Like Japan, most trendy toys in the North American market have evolved from anime and movie characters, such as Disney, Marvel, DC, etc. They have many years of fan culture precipitation, stronger user loyalty and stickiness, and more mature industry development.
In 2020, under the influence of home isolation caused by the epidemic, the demand for toys of users in the North American market will increase. According to the data released by the American Toy Association, the total size of the American toy market will exceed 32 billion dollars in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 16.7% compared with 2019. In addition, statistics released by Statista show that in the first three quarters of 2020, the sales of the Canadian toy industry increased by 12%, including 14% growth in trendy dolls and art ornaments with artistic and collectible values.
When it comes to IP, which has global influence, I believe many people will think of a series of classic images created by Disney and its subsidiaries, such as Mickey Mouse, Snow and Ice, Star Wars, and Marvel's heroes. These characters are not only sought after in the United States and Canada, but also have considerable influence in the global hip-hop market.
For example, in order to capture domestic users and better meet the needs of overseas consumers, many Chinese head fashion brands choose to "hold hands" with Disney. Among them, 52TOYS has launched a series of toy products in cooperation with IP under Disney and Marvel.
As a collection toy brand from China, 52TOYS not only provides Kimmy&Miki series, crayon small new series, Wuhuang Wanshui series and other lovely and exquisite blind box products for the majority of female consumers, but also introduces the "Deformed Machine Armor Series (BOX Series)", which is mainly for male players and has higher playability. The male consumers of this series account for 70%.
In addition, 52TOYS, which focuses on Chinese culture going to sea, has also created a "super activation series". From the launch of the project in 2017 to the present, the 52TOYS super activation series, adhering to the concept of transcending tradition, activating history and inheriting civilization, has produced dozens of products, such as the "battle Terra Cotta Warriors" with modern weapons, the "daily life of ladies", "yoga of ladies" and "bronze team" of the Tang Dynasty with various yoga poses, and the "flat support" of various ancient civilizations recently launched.
In fact, in the North American market, trendy toys bearing designers' ideas and emotions as well as artistic attributes are also popular. Among them, KAWS is a typical representative of the small crowd and designer style of fashion play. It is reported that the image of KAWS was created by American designer Brian. In the early days, the image of KAWS was a symbol of street culture and widely appeared in various graffiti. In the later years, Brian successively cooperated with Japanese toy enterprises Bounty Hunter and Medicom Toy to launch KAWS series of fashionable games.
When it comes to consumers, North American consumers are more "hard core" than consumers in the Asia Pacific region in their pursuit of "cute". According to Mr. Chen Wei, the founder and CEO of 52TOYS, "In Asia Pacific regions such as Japan, consumers prefer products built around the" cute anime style ", while North American consumers are more interested in science fiction and heroism."
From the perspective of consumption habits, previously, compared with the uncertain "surprise toys" like blind boxes, North American consumers were more inclined to buy the product they liked rather than obtain it by "taking chances". However, with the rise of blind boxes and the "cultivation" of brands for a period of time, North American consumers have gradually increased their acceptance of various "play methods" of fashion play.
In fact, the categories and play methods of toys are constantly changing, and consumers in North America and even the world will increasingly accept different categories and play methods. As Mr. Chen Wei said, "As the whole market continues to mature, consumers' preferences and appetites for new things will become greater and greater. In the future, there will be more categories coming into the public's view than just" fun ". This is actually a gradual process."
Write at the end
In front of China ChaoPlay brand is a vast and complex overseas market. In addition to Japan, South Korea, the United States and Canada, Southeast Asia is also an important part of Chaoplay's overseas business territory. This market, which has a population of 670 million, is deeply influenced by the culture of neighboring countries, and is quite sensitive to European and American fashion, has huge development potential.
Among the 11 ASEAN countries, Singapore, which has excellent economic environment and consumption capacity, has unique advantages. Many Chinese fashion brands have chosen the strategic layout of "sitting in Singapore and radiating to Southeast Asia". In addition to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries belonging to the 11 ASEAN countries, as well as Russia, Latin America and other markets that have not been "touched" by a large number of players are waiting for Chinese players to develop.
However, for the Chinese fashion game brands at this stage, when selecting overseas markets, the economic environment of the target market, the consumption capacity of the people, and the sensitivity and demand for trends are all standards that can be referred to.
Do you think there is a "standard answer" for China Tide Play Sailing?
Wen | Deng Yunxi
Editor | Zhao Xiaochun