Purchasing Pokemon Bread and collecting stickers are the recent trend of consumers in their 20s and 30s.
/Photography from Lee Eun-bi
The average level of living standard in major countries around the world has risen sharply with economic development. Accordingly, in the major advanced countries, a culture of considering not only “What is essential to our life?” but also “What makes our life more pleasant?” is developing. Consumers these days, especially the people in their 20s and 30s who are leading the consumer culture, tend to spend and invest in goods that have high scarcity value rather than those that are necessary and practical. One of the cultures that invest in scarcity rather than necessity and practicality is the collection culture. People often repurchase and collect items that cannot be easily purchased on the market due to limited quantities or short-term sales. In Korean society, you can often see the recent trend of this collection culture.
Consumers spend on rare items that remind them of the past
SPC Samlip, a comprehensive food company, relaunched its Pokemon Bread on February 24th. After being released for the first time in 1998, it has gained huge popularity by creating a craze for collecting enclosed stickers. Pokemon Bread, which was relaunched after 16 years, gained tremendous popularity, achieving high sales with 1.5 million units sold in the first week. Consumers in their 20s and 30s, who have childhood memories of this product in the past, have purchased Pokemon Bread in large quantities to collect stickers, and it became a big issue. Some stickers of certain popular characters were re-traded at prices several tens of times the product price. The demand for Pokemon Bread is so high that it cannot be easily bought at marts or convenience stores. People enjoy not only collecting stickers but also the act of buying it, which is difficult to buy. You can often see posts or videos written bragging about the recent success of buying Pokemon Bread on social media.
The public is also looking for scarcity in music culture. One of the fashions of “Newtro,” a compound word of new and retro, is a culture in which the young generation collects Long Play Record (LP). Recently, almost everyone uses a smartphone, so there have been many cases of listening to digital music. However, with the release of LP albums with the latest music after Newtro’s popularity, young generations who have not experienced LPs in the past had started collecting LPs. In particular, LPs, which were released very long ago, have high scarcity value since there are not many ways to purchase them now. Not only listening to music but also collecting LP albums has become a new trend. According to a report released in December 2020 by YES24, an online book and record sales site, LP sales in 2020 increased 73.1% compared to 2019. Of the LP buyers, 21.2% were in their 20s and 31.7% were in their 30s.
Consumers spend on limited edition that is hard to own
On January 14th, Nike released Jordan 1 series golf shoes on a first-come, firstserved basis. Despite the cold weather and the pandemic situation, people stood in line in front of the department store from the day before the release. As soon as the store opened on the day, people ran dangerously to purchase the shoes. These shoes have been re-traded for as much as four times the regular price. From the past, Nike’s popular limited-edition shoes formed a very large resell market and were frequently traded at high prices. In particular, since Nike’s massive marketing in 2020, Nike Dunk has become one of the most popular shoes. They release a new design of Nike Dunks periodically and sell a limited number of them only to those who have been drawn. Collectors spend a lot of money on re-trading to get those shoes. Several products that celebrities or recently popular fashion brands collaborated on are resold at tens of times the price of their products.
As scarcity emerged as an important value, people started to consume and invest in Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artworks. NFT has emerged as an asset that can compensate for the difficulty of knowing what is genuine and who owns it. In other words, NFT assets have the characteristics of being able to prove scarcity on their own. In 2017, a startup named Dapper Labs developed a game called Crypto Kitties. It is a game in which users mate NFT-attributed cats to make their own rare cats. At the end of 2017, a game’s digital cat was traded for about 110,000 dollars. This was the beginning of the NFT. People spend on NFT as it can give virtual assets the value of scarcity and uniqueness. Recently, the trading volume of Open Sea, the NFT exchange market, exceeded 3.5 billion dollars. In June 2017, software company Larva Labs developed an NFT project called Crypto Punks. About 10,000 characters with various personalities, costumes, and hairstyles are traded. In July 2021, 1,395 cases were traded during a month, totaling about 135 million dollars. The average selling price of a character is about 100,000 dollars, and one of the rare characters has been traded at about 7.6 million dollars.
As can be seen from the current Korean trend, lots of people have been enthusiastic about the scarcity and want to be special by showing off their own items. When viewed by others who are not interested in the particular things, it may be difficult to understand spending a large amount of money on items that are neither necessary nor practical. However, the current collecting culture is recognized as a hobby or even a type of investment technique. It will be necessary to pay attention to it since more and more people are investing in it.
Hwang Chae-yeon email@example.com
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