Brands are Embracing Anime Culture in China

Caroline Xu China Digital News, Red/Xiaohongshu Marketing

Anime culture, once considered niche, is now entering mainstream consumer markets in China. By embracing these trends, some brands activated to collaborate with anime games and IPs with millions of impressions. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of anime merchandise has revitalized traditional shopping malls.

Female-oriented games are the new collaboration trend

“Otome game”, also known as the female-oriented game, is a type of romance simulation game originating from Japan. It typically features a female protagonist who engages in romantic storylines with male characters, though some games also include female characters as potential love interests.

Heytea and “Light and Night” Collaboration: Heytea partnered with “Light and Night,” a popular dating-themed game targeting female players. The campaign included life-sized cutouts and marriage certificates with a stamp, offered alongside bubble tea purchases.

Heytea, one of China’s largest bubble tea chains, collaborated with “Light and Night,” a popular dating-themed game targeting female players. This collaboration has proven to be Heytea’s most successful campaign this year:

Enthusiastic fans completed a “marriage” ceremony by taking pictures with their favorite characters.
  • On opening day, stores in tier-1 cities had 800 to 1,000 orders waiting by mid-morning with 4 to 9 hours of waiting time
  • Fans gathered in large numbers, many dressing up in costumes
  • Some fans dressed up in wedding attire and waited in line for hours to take photos with a life-sized cutout, complete with “marriage certificates“

Anime Goods help to revitalize offline shopping

The term “Guzi” (谷子) is derived from the English word “goods.” It refers to merchandise related to manga, anime, games, and idols. Specifically, it includes items like badges, standees, keychains, posters, dolls, and decorative items with anime or game character themes.

Anime Goods Store & Organic Sharing of Goods

The Shanghai collaborative pop-up store between Chinese discount retailer Miniso and Japanese manga and anime series Chiikawa sold CNY2.7 million (USD370,000) of goods in 10 hours on opening day.  On Xiaohongshu, people said that it was common that they needed to wait in line for 1 hour to get into the shop.

Meanwhile, Xi’an Intime Mall successfully held promotional events with many cosplayers in Anya’s signature look. Anya Forger is from the popular anime series “Spy × Family”. The iconic look is matching pink wigs, black dresses adorned with gold trim, and black shoes.

Intime offline events with many Anya Cosplayers

The event attracted crowds who were actively taking photos and videos. User-generated content went viral online, bringing huge foot traffic to Xi’an Intime Mall. The Mall has become famous for catering to anime enthusiasts. Many people take Xi’an Intime Mall as a popular destination similar to Akihabara in Tokyo.

Spy X Family Anya Forger Cosers’ post went viral on RED with more than 40k engagement

Brands that embrace anime culture can help to revitalize traditional retail spaces. Stores selling anime merchandise attract significant foot traffic, transforming struggling malls into bustling shopping destinations.

In Conclusion

Brands should put more effort into understanding and respect when collaborating with anime culture to succeed. Heytea exemplified this by introducing characters in order of their appearance and training staff to fully know each game’s characters’ backgrounds.

The key to successful collaborations lies in the brand’s attitude. Audiences value respectful and sincere engagement. When anime players perceive a brand’s genuine effort, they are more likely to support and purchase from it.

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