Posted on Leave a comment

Long Lines of Chinese Youth for Japanese ‘Chiikawa’ Merchandise

The Japanese manga character “Chiikawa” has gained explosive popularity among young people in China.

MINISO, a major Chinese lifestyle retail chain that operates the “MINISO” brand, developed character merchandise such as plush toys in collaboration with Chiikawa. When they launched pop-up stores in shopping malls in Shanghai and Beijing, they attracted far more fans than expected.

According to MINISO, the first pop-up store, which opened in Joy City in the Jing’an District of Shanghai on March 29, achieved sales exceeding 8 million yuan (approximately 167.52 million yen) in just three days. The average spend per customer was over 1,000 yuan (approximately 2,941 yen).

On April 1, additional pop-up stores opened in Joy City in the Chaoyang District of Beijing and Hopson One in the Yangpu District of Shanghai, where long lines of fans seeking Chiikawa merchandise formed.

To prevent accidents and other incidents, MINISO limited the number of people in the pop-up stores to 60 at a time and restricted shopping time to 10–15 minutes. According to signs in front of the stores, those wishing to enter needed to reserve through a smartphone app by 8 PM the previous day and also queue up on the day.

MINISO plans to sell Chiikawa collaboration products not only in pop-up stores but also throughout its chain stores across China.

Chiikawa, which was animated for Japanese TV in 2022, sparked a boom among anime fans in China towards the end of 2023.

Until this collaboration with MINISO, no one in China had acquired the domestic rights to use the Chiikawa character. As a result, Chinese fans had been paying high fees to Japanese purchasing agents to import Chiikawa goods personally.

Based on a licensing agreement with Chiikawa’s rights management company, MINISO was able to develop and sell original merchandise for the Chinese market, significantly reducing prices compared to personal imports. This reduction in cost has greatly contributed to the overwhelming turnout at the pop-up stores.

Meanwhile, there has been a surge in reselling the products from the pop-up stores at high prices. A Caixin journalist searching China’s largest flea market app, Xianyu, found Chiikawa plush toys in pajamas being traded for about 110 to 140 yuan, nearly double the original price of 69.9 yuan.

Recently, MINISO has been rapidly launching collaboration products with popular characters both inside and outside China. This collaboration with Chiikawa appears to be an exceptionally successful venture among these efforts.

However, acquiring the rights to popular characters also leads to increased costs. According to MINISO’s disclosures, the expenses related to sales and distribution, including intellectual property licensing fees, for the second half of 2023 (July to December) totaled 1.322 billion yuan, a 70% increase over the same period the previous year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *