How a Chinese emoji startup is tapping the opportunity of entertainment retail?

In China, the acronym IP sometimes refers to neither “internet protocol”  nor “intellectual property”. Under the dominant digital culture, it is a term to encapsulate the broad ecosystem of online ACGN (Anime, Comic, Game, Novel) which is often born and viral through the internet while wields an incredible influence among the younger generations.

From chain restaurants to shopping malls, many B2C merchants realized the IP concept has become a crucial part of their marketing & branding strategies in order to lure your customers into the door of your stores.

For instance, a mobile game “Fifth Personality“, which was launched in April 2018 and has accumulated over 100 million online players, can cash on its rising popularity and quickly sign deals with the hottest brands in the market, such as:

  • Luckin Coffee (China’s most talked about homegrown delivery focused coffee brand aiming to challenge the supremacy of Starbucks in the country)
  • It collaborated “Fifth Personality” for the campaign push of 200,000 coupons during the Halloween festival and instantly hit the KPI mark.

Today a bunch of local investors is aggressively investing in IP related concept, product or simply the business model.

A startup like 12Dong:

Established in 2015, it ventured out as an emoji design company and recently raked in more than RMB 100 million in its Series B funding.

So far it has created 300 cartoon characters, attracted around 41 million loyal fans, and its emoji have been downloaded over 1.5 billion times.

The unstoppable momentum of 12Dong did not intend to stay in the virtual world forever. It was craving for the brick&mortar presence.  In 2018, it soon rolled out the claw machine flagship store for all its emoji mascots.

It is said the pilot was a smash as fans were simply queuing a long line outside the store. So far 8 flagship stores have contributed to half of its annual revenues.

The startup is very confident to envision its claw machine growth of partnering with at least 8000 offline locations, in particular in certain corners of big shopping malls. It is also planning to expand new product lines surrounding its emoji characters, for instance, stationary, bags, luggage, shoes, blanket or any imaginable accessories at affordable prices.

12Dong claimed retail experience should be highly entertaining, and told it will fully leverage its “IP power” to build a more innovative, immersive, gaming oriented offline retail store in the near future.

By: Cecilia Wu