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From donuts to ramyeon, kidults drive cute character craze

Mar 05,2019
The Jjanggu mini humidifier that Krispy Kreme sold in a limited promotion and Nongshim’s Neoguri raccoon character. [LOTTE GSR, NONGSHIM]
Call it the Jjanggu effect.

On Jan. 28, long lines formed in front of Krispy Kreme stores in Korea. But the crowds were not queuing so much for the donuts as they were for a special offer based on the Japanese animation “Jjanggu the Unhelpable.”

Krispy Kreme was selling a limited-edition Jjanggu mini humidifier: The main characters of the series - Jjanggu, Jjanggu’s sister Jjangga and the white fluffy dog - are in a miniature tub and the humidified air comes from the center of the tub.

The product costs 15,000 won ($13.30), or 18,000 won with six donuts. A total of 30,000 units were prepared for the day, and according to reports, they sold like hotcakes.

“The collaboration with characters has received a favorable reaction, as favorable as the white fluffy dog mood lamp released in December last year, which was so hot that it sold out in three days,” said a source from Krispy Kreme.

“Now collaboration with characters has become an essential marketing strategy in the food and beverage industry.”

It’s all about cute.

Since we live in a time where the delicious and original are abundant and easy to find, providing joy beyond the taste of the food has become an important task for marketers. The industry is frantically trying to offer cute characters, original products and items that might become viral on social media.

Experts say the phenomenon is in part driven by the fad among the young to post food online. They are conscious of how it looks on screen.

Using characters for promotion is nothing new, but the main target has long been children. The difference now is that the target is kidults, people in their 20s with the earning power of employees but with the enthusiasm of children.

Lotteria in January sold Pokemon-themed snow globes. The price of one snow globe was 11,000 won when buying a hamburger and 20,000 won when buying only the product. The snow globes were a smash hit, with the 90,000 offered in January selling out in a single day.

Comments flooded social media, with fans saying they scrambled to get theirs despite the bad weather. Some noted that they had to buy a complete set as die-hard fans must have the full collection.

“Even though the characters don’t help sales all that much, it is necessary since it generates buzz and creates loyal customers,” said Jung Sung-hoon, an official from Lotte GRS.

“From now on, we are planning to market limited editions each season.”

Lotte Confectionery is going full steam into the character business.

It signed a licensing agreement with HEROS Entertainment on Feb. 14. to use characters that are already well known. Characters represented by HEROS include YG KRUNK, KunKat and Mimi.

Lotte will start by commercializing Kancho, Malang Cow and Pepero. The company is planning to earn copyright profits from the characters.

“Customers have been exposed to the characters, so we can use them in a variety of fields,” said a source from Lotte Confectionery.

Nongshim utilizes a raccoon character for its ramyeon, Neoguri. Son Na-eun from girl group Apink, the face of Nongshim, sometimes chats with a 3-D version of the raccoon.

Nongshim not only inscribes the image of the raccoon on its fish cakes, but frequently produces raccoon goods for fans.

Coffee shops are no exception, especially as coffee imports dropped recently for the first time since 2012.

Ediya sold 2,000 sets of “Ediya Kids Pororo” juice every day on average for a month. Released in 2018, the juice comes in three flavors.


BY CHUN YOUNG-SUN [kim.heyu@joongang.co.kr]


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