Unpacking The Kidult Segment

Recently I was exposed to an art toy ‘Molly’ while watching TikTok – ‘Molly’ was sealed within a plastic bag inside a box, known as blind boxes. It’s ‘blind’ because you don’t know which design of ‘Molly’ you’ve bought until you open that opaque bag.

The blind box market in China has taken off in 2018 and still expanding. It’s common for people to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on blind boxes every month. The ‘Molly’ character was designed by Kenny Wong, but the ‘Molly’ toys were created and released by Pop Mart. Pop Mart only release art toys in blind box format. Their art toys can be divided into two main categories; unique toy characters like ‘Molly’, or licenced characters from movies, anime, and entertainment companies. Toys are designed and released in different themes e.g. Christmas, Micky & Minnie, or Chinese Zodiac etc. In 2018 ‘Molly’ products sold more than 4 million boxes, with annual revenue of more than 200 million RMBs.

Sound niche or designed specifically for an Asian audience … maybe not.

In 2018 Coles released their first Little Shop campaign, for every $30 spent in Coles you’ll be rewarded with effectively a blind bag in the form of a miniature item.  Estimates have first quarter sales being boosted by 5%.  This year Woolworths followed suit when it released the Disney Lion King blind bags. 

Both campaigns shifted Australian’s grocery shopping habits by switching supermarkets to collect their preferred miniatures in a category where brand loyalty is strong.  In my friendship circle, habits and loyalties were thrown out the supermarket aisle – friends going into Coles multiple times a week despite never having shopped their before. A survey in 2018 claimed consumers aged 18 to 29 are most likely to spend more and switch their shopping location after being exposed to the Little Shop’s promotion. According to Pop Mart’s official website, 60% of its customers are also between the age of 18 to 29.

So, what’s special about this group of consumers?

They are the ‘Kidults’, adults who have a great deal of interest in products intended for kids (e.g, Disney, LEGO etc.). Every adult has an inner child, now more and more adults let their inner child out to ‘play away’ or ‘collect away’ their work or life stresses. The majority of them are earning income from casual or full-time jobs, and they can afford any toys they like. With the increasing popularity of kidult culture, they are less ashamed about their toy collections, imagine the self-confidence when showing off their full collection of Little Shop including the ‘golden trolley’. From the example of ‘Molly’ and Little Shop miniatures, we can see kidults love to buy and collect blind boxes/bags, and I think the secret behind is the feeling of surprise and uncertainty. The excitements attached along with each stage of the purchase ‘choosing – buying – opening’ blind boxes. For kidults, the emotional satisfaction gained from the blind box is much more important than its functional benefits. It’s like the feeling of opening up your birthday or Christmas gift, how exciting is it! 

Kidults are not limited in countries or markets. In the past five years, the growth of the kidult market has been significantly identified in countries including Korea, UK, Singapore, and China. In Australia, even though the toy market is declining but there is no doubt that the kidults market is the upcoming growing trend. Now is the perfect time to discover if your consumers are kidults, and as you know The Interpreters is always here to help.

By Rain Yang

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