2020 was a monumental year for Chinese IPOs. In June, JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce platform, went public; September saw Nongfu Spring, China’s most popular bottled water brand, turn founder Zhong Shanshan into the country’s third richest individual; and then there was Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Group, the $30-odd billion project that never was. 

Amid these listings, POP MART, a purveyor of collectible art toys popular with Chinese Millennials and Gen Z-ers, landed on the Hong Kong stock market. One month on, the stock has stabilized in the mid-HK$70s ($9) — proof of something that has seemed increasingly evident across Chinese shopping centers in recent years: the Beijing-based company’s ability to match uniquely desirable products with a savvy offline sales strategy promises long-term success. 

Why it matters

  •  A lucrative, high-profile launch for a company that is young, small in size, and relatively narrow in scope demonstrates investment sector confidence in the toy and creative IP market growth potential.
  • POP MART’s roboshop vending machines, which dispense its signature blind box figurines have been widely heralded as a playful and economic offline model, but the manicured in-store experience has been equally important in exciting consumers. The company plans to use some its IPO proceedd to open more than 150 new retail shops over the next two years.
  • POP MART may only be a decade old, but its market dominance makes it one of the largest players on the international toy circuit. With the brand building a presence on global social media platforms, an outward expansion should be expected in the coming years. 

With at least 200 machines in China and others dotting cities from Singapore to Seoul, POP MART’s roboshops have enhanced the company’s offline footprint. Image: Shutterstock.

What the analyst says

“POP MART’s ability to innovate and produce high quality popular models has led to its rapid growth. Its IP operation has been proven a success in attracting adult customers who are less likely to be affected by competition as long as POP MART continues its strong IP operation strategy. The company has been undergoing a successful transformation from a toy brand to a culture and entertainment brand.” — Steffi Noël, Project Leader, Daxue Consulting

What the industry says 

“As a trailblazer of pop toy culture in China, POP MART has been leading the revolution of China’s pop toy culture, growing the industry from a niche market to the mainstream pop culture. POP MART is at the forefront of companies seeking to capitalize on the historic changes to the consumer market’s preferences, which are driven by the younger generation’s shift in consumption patterns.” — Fan Bao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of China Renaissance, IPO coordinator

The JCC Angle

The December IPO marks a significant point in POP MART’s breakneck ascent, a milestone that would have seemed highly improbable even a couple of years ago. 

Beyond signaling the vast potential and diverse nature of China’s entertainment industry, it will provide POP MART cash to expand, both in offline stores and in new directions with its millennial founder Wang Ning claiming Disney aspirations for the company. Recent furor surrounding claims the company has been secretly reselling products and anticipated government regulations surrounding the blind box craze evidence the need to broaden products and offerings. Where it goes next should be watched closely. 


Jing Culture & Commerce