a doll house with Disney princess dolls

Inside Pop Mart: How blind box toys are becoming a global phenomenon

a doll house with Disney princess dolls
If you've never heard of Pop Mart, it's time to get familiar with this Chinese lifestyle brand that has taken the world by storm in recent years. From its unique and innovative approach to design and marketing to its incredible success in the international market, Pop Mart is a company that is hard to ignore.
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Updated: May 6

By Philippe Guinaudeau, CEO

Pop Mart Collection

Photo by Qichen Xie, The BrandTrends Group

Unpacking the Story Behind Pop Mart’s Iconic Blind Box Collectibles

If you’ve never heard of Pop Mart, it’s time to get familiar with this Chinese lifestyle brand that has taken the world by storm in recent years. From its unique and innovative approach to design and marketing to its incredible success in the international market, Pop Mart is a company that is hard to ignore.

So, what is Pop Mart? Founded in 2010 by Wang Ning, a veteran in the toy industry, the company initially produced vinyl toys that were popular among collectors. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that Pop Mart began to gain mainstream attention with the launch of its first blind box toy series, Molly.

Blind box toys are collectibles that come in a sealed box, with the content unknown to the buyer until they open it. This element of surprise and anticipation has made blind box toys incredibly popular, and Pop Mart’s Molly series was no exception. The success of the Molly series allowed Pop Mart to expand its product line and venture into new markets.

According to a 2022 report by the BrandTrends Group, Pop Mart’s products are especially popular among young Chinese females aged 15 to 35 years old, making up around 65% of the brand’s customer base. The report also shows that the remaining 35% are mostly male customers within the same age range, although younger demographics also start picking it up.

Pop Mart Stor - China

Photo by Qichen Xie, The BrandTrends Group

The findings suggest that Pop Mart’s innovative designs, unique packaging, and emotional connection with customers have resonated strongly with the younger generation in China. The brand has successfully tapped into the youth market’s desire for collectibles and nostalgia, creating a unique lifestyle brand that has captured the hearts of many.

The demographic target is well thought-out: young employees are often exposed to stresses and heavy psychological burdens in the face of the fast pace of society and the pressure of daily work. When they stand in the office in front of boring documents or tables, toys/collectibles can fulfill the role of a mascot in the corner of their office. Unlike plants, figurines don’t need to be watered or cared for, and they don’t take up much space. In addition, blind boxes are also a great gift idea when young people can’t always afford luxury items but still want to give something chic and unique.

Today, Pop Mart has over 100 intellectual property rights and licenses, including collaborations with popular brands such as Disney and Sesame Street. Pop Mart’s success can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its unique approach to design and marketing, collaborations with established and emerging artists, and expansion into international markets.

Pop Mart’s marketing strategy has played a significant role in the brand’s success. The company focuses on creating an emotional connection with its customers. One way they do this is through the packaging of their products. Each blind box toy comes in a uniquely designed box, featuring colorful illustrations and characters. The packaging itself is designed to be a collectible item, adding to the overall value of the product.

Pop Mart also uses social media to its advantage, with its official Weibo account boasting over 20 million followers. The company regularly posts content featuring its latest releases, collaborations, and behind-the-scenes footage. This not only keeps its customers engaged but also helps to build a community around the brand.

Despite Pop Mart’s tremendous success, there has been some controversy around blind box toys. As they can incite children to spend more than the figurine’s actual value, parents have become wary of them. However, Pop Mart has managed to leverage this trend and create a strong brand identity with unique packaging and collaborations with popular brands and designers.

One of the brand’s most successful collaborations was with the Chinese designer and illustrator, Luo Li Rong. The partnership resulted in the creation of the popular blind box series, Pucky. In addition to collaborating with established brands and designers, Pop Mart has also worked with up-and-coming artists. This has helped to create a platform for emerging talent, as well as bringing fresh and unique designs to the market.

Pop Mart has expanded rapidly into international markets, with its products now available in over 50 countries worldwide. The company has opened stores in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, and has plans to expand further in Southeast Asia and Europe. Pop Mart’s focus on creating culturally relevant products has contributed to its success in the international market. For example, the company’s collaboration with Singaporean artist, Daniel Yu, resulted in the creation of the popular series, MONSTER TOYS, which features creatures inspired by Southeast Asian folklore.

In short, Pop Mart’s phenomenal success can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its unique approach to design and marketing, collaborations with established and emerging artists, and expansion into international markets. The brand’s ability to create emotional connections with its customers has helped to build a loyal following and establish it as a leader in the lifestyle industry. As Pop Mart continues to expand, we can expect new and innovative products to come from this company. With its creative vision and strategic approach to marketing, Pop Mart is here to stay.

Other references: Content initially developped for LSA – Pop Mart

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