Millions of people around the world use messaging and calling services to communicate with their friends and families regardless of where they are.
While many of these people are largely well-versed with major apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, iMessage and Snapchat, very few are aware of the top names in the Asian market, among them LINE and KakaoTalk. The two companies are battling it out as far as taking the lead over the other in the $20 billion-rated Asian character merchandising industry.
Other than offering users with amazing communication services using the internet, the two messaging apps also operate offline retail stores. KakaoTalk owns Kako Friends Shop while LINE owns LINE Friends Store. These two stores are used to sell a variety of products that include smartphone battery chargers, clothes as well as jewelry that has decorated with emoticons, emojis and other characters that are found on the main mobile messaging platforms.
LINE Corp. leads the way with 25 Friends Stores
LINE Corp. has already established 25 stores across different nations. Of these stores, 10 of them are located in shopping districts in and major tourist sites in Korea while the other 15 are located in global markets, among them Japan and Hong Kong – the two areas where the app is doing marvelously well.
Unsurprisingly, 22 of the entire 25 stores were opened in 2015. However, the company is planning to launch more shops in other regions where the app is excelling, among them Taiwan and China. According to the latest stats, LINE Friends Stores based in Korea alone attracted a tune of up to 22 million visitors in 2015 alone. The visits generated sales of up to 200,000 units for one specific item – the Brown Doll toy bear that features a character known as Brown.
KakaoTalk is playing catch up with 15 Kakao Friends Shops
KakaoTalk is not also staying behind either as it has also taken its place in this huge character market. The company sells its character-based products that include camping items as well as smartphone casings.
Kakao has partnered with quite a number of big names in the industry, among them, LG Household and Health Care as well as A Twosome Place coffee chain to sell cosmetics and cakes that feature its mobile emoticons. Now, the chat app currently operates 15 offline Friends Shops across Korea, and there are reports of launching more shops in overseas countries.
As of today, the Korea Creative Content Agency values the Asian character business market at $20 billion, which makes it a hot cake for both LINE Corporation and Kakao.