A Few months back we had the opportunity to pick the brains of one of CEO’s of POP MART. The growth of POP MART has been felt worldwide and we wanted to share with you all a little insight into the company. POP MART are behind the Beijing Toy Show which is just 4 days away a nice time to see what the plans are for the future.
TTC– As far as I know. In the past few years, POP MART has transformed its business from lifestyle products retail stores into a professional art toy company, which has shaken up the art toy industry. How did it start?
POP MART- Nine years ago, POP MART opened its first brick-and-mortar store. The products sold in this shop were focused on trendsetting department store products. After a
period of operation, we found difficult to describe the concept of our store, so we decided to simplify the category. In 2014, the highest proportion of our sales were art toys (approximately 30%), meaning that the Chinese art toy market was not fully satisfied nor developed yet.
A new generation of young people with true fond of trending culture or trend chasers, allowed us to find that the art toys were a unique market. In that sense, POP MART started to give consumers beautiful and innovative products and also focused on consumer experience.
Through market research and analysis, we are determined to deeply cultivate this new trend of art toys. Through these years of continuous exploration of this amazing field, I am very happy that we persevered, and made some achievements, from the first physical stores to Roboshops (advanced vending machines), to Tmall flagship stores, to our APPS to deliver entertainment. We have been constantly trying and innovating, so that more people know and enjoy what our company does, at the same time we also develop the trend culture with massive events in China.
TTC – What do you think is the difference between the previous target group and the current one? After focusing on the art toy industry, will it be easier to
market your products than before?
POP MART– At present, POP MART’s main consumer group is between 18 and 35 years old, urban white-collar employees and students; also 75% are female consumers. As for the difference between the customer groups before and after our transformation, the difference is not big, we can even say that the current customer, the location of stores and the marketing efforts are somewhat related.
Before the change of strategy, POP MART’s store location had been placed in the best locations of important shopping centres, in that way, we can access to young and regular consumers, who can access directly and quickly to trend culture through POP MART stores. Overall, before and after the transformation, the target consumer is not very different, but our product Marketing is more committed and focuses to make POP MART closer to fans and have more interactions with them in various ways, so fans can trust and love POP MART brand, products, quality, experience, and customer service. We want fans to love not only one IP but our whole brand: POP MART.
TTC– How do you find artists and brands to connect to produce the series or designer vinyl?
POP MART– There are many ways to find artists, for example, we found molly, because of one Weibo post I made. In 2016 I asked my followers that collect toys and directly ask them which art toys they were collecting, half of them left messages saying that they collect MOLLY, and I first met MOLLY and the creator behind it: Kenny Wong. Of course, that was our beginnings, now we have a more effective way to find artists.
Currently, the most effective way for us is to find those promising artists in the toy shows we organize (BTS and STS), in those we can discover the potential of the artists in the site, in a real scenario, also how popular they are and how much the fans love the artists. After the event, we analyze and evaluate the possibility of cooperation with our brand. To these events, we invite and welcome artists and brands from all over the world.
For our signed artists, POP MART will give professional product development, high- quality factory production, and a fully-covered retail platform allowing artists to maximize their artistic creations and produce more toys that fans will love.
TTC- Since last year, POP MART has started to reach out to western markets.
And trying to get in touch with collectors around the world. What do you think about the future in the overseas market? Do you have any new plans? Do you plan to have retail outlets in western countries?
POP MART– The rapid development of China’s economy has brought two benefits both at home and abroad. One is the growth of Chinese manufacture and the other is the increase in the Chinese market.
In the field of art toys, Chinese manufacture can build up the standardization for the art toy industry, and the Chinese market can access us promising artists and boost their reach and help the artists to expand to the global market. For overseas markets, we can benefit from Chinese manufacturing and market, we are looking for the world’s best toy artists, and we want to start developing and incubating them and their products, so we can export them to overseas markets.
So far, POP MART has entered 14 countries and is actively seeking to expand more international markets. We do not dismiss the possibility of opening physical stores overseas.
TTC– This year we have seen your work with western artists like COARSE,
whose works are very popular. What do you think is the difference between Asian and Western market about the taste and preference of art toys?
POP MART– COARSE is an interesting example because there is a special story behind each of the projects that expresses what the creator wants to convey. For these stories or expressions, whether for the Western or Asian markets, there is not much cultural difference, as long as the artist expresses something that can be recognized by fans worldwide. So, for art toys, it is not the market that indicates the preference, but more
the artists and art toys itself that create and lead the direction of the market.
TTC– Seeing you make a presence at Thailand Toy Expo plus having a good
a cooperative relationship with them any chance you’ll be looking for local Thai artists for upcoming projects?
POP MART– We have a good relationship with the Thai Toy Fair, which we attend every year. Furthermore, in every Beijing Toy Show and Shanghai Toy Show, there are always many Thai artists. At the moment, we are actively looking for the possibility of working with these artists and look forward to the opportunity to collaborate to bring something new to the market.
TTC– Beijing Toy Show is about to start and for Shanghai Toy Show we saw plenty of footage and it looked phenomenal, how hard has it been to upgrade every year and making STS and BTS better with the standards already so high?
POP MART– The original purpose of our two toy shows in Beijing and Shanghai is to give artists a platform to show and commercialize their products and also to create exclusive art toys for fans. Certainly, to achieve this there are many difficulties in the process. For each exhibition, we count with the help of nearly 400 POP MART employees, their help is important in each process (planning, exhibition layout, security, ticketing,
They give their best to achieve the most perfect results possible so that fans and artists can have the best exhibition experience.
We are very grateful to all the artists and fans who have supported us, because today STS and BTS are the most influential toy events in Asia, and in the future, we will stick to our formula and make our events the most influential event of art toys globally.
TTC– We know that in Asia there are plenty of trends come and go very quickly. Do you have a plan to keep collectors hungry for your products?
POP MART– Currently, the art toy exhibitions have had a great influence throughout Asia, every year POP MART runs its exhibitions, through the toy events, artists from various countries get together, and often can have some wonderful collaborations, and these fancy ideas are always leading the art toy market. Therefore, we want to create trends through the toy shows, and for some obvious and influential artists and brands, we allow them to express their artistic ideas and lead the way through industrial production and marketing.
TTC– We have now seen you finally activate western social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The reception has been great from our viewpoint. Seeing pop mart open up to western social media shows your intentions and ready to make a firm statement that pop mart is looking to the future. Are there any secret projects or artists you can hints you can give our readers?
POP MART– We are working with a lot of great designers and you and your readers can rest assure that we are working hard every day to surprise you every time.
Thank you for your time Grant Wang Ning CEO of POP MART and a special thank you to Shirley & Henry from the POP MART International family for making this possible.
4 days until Beijing Toy Show.
Check out some of the releases from POP MART below.