The surprise blind box which might contain anything – How the “gambling” mindset is impacting customer experience in China

 

A blind box is a box with opaque packaging, hiding the product inside. It is similar to an “Advent Calendar” in Germany, however, there’s only one product inside the box and you don’t know what it is exactly.

In one of our previous articles we were  introducing the blind box/toy manufacturer Pop Mart in China: Read article 

After Pop Mart has gotten so successful in China, as we described in the article above, manufacturers from other industries also started to draw on this experience and launched their own blind boxes.

 

Transportation & Travel

Right before the national holiday in April 2021, an airplane tickets blind box was launched by several travel platforms in China.

First, the buyer needs to install the app of the travel platform, has to invite at least 2 friends to install the app as well and then the blind box feature is activated eventually. After the buyer has selected a departure airport, he can purchase an airplane ticket for 99 Yuan (about 14 Euro) with no knowledge of the destination in advance which can be very exciting. After the purchase, buyers will be notified about the destination and are free to decide whether to return the ticket and get a refund or to proceed with their spontaneous travel plans.

In April 2021, over 20 million people purchased blind boxes on different travel platforms, which boosted China’s travel industry that year.

Younger generations are drawn to this kind of product, as they tend to be rather spontaneous and adventurous. They welcome the idea of breaking out of everyday life every once in a while.

 

Stationery

Blind boxes of stationaries are also becoming very popular among pupils and students. A box contains a mix of about 5 different tools, such as a gel pen, a highlighter, a sticker, and sticky tape with the same design. The packagings are often designed in a very interesting and eyecatching way (cute or cool) with vibrant colors which are very popular amongst young pupils and students.

A lot of pupils and students tend to purchase the blind box multiple times in order to collect the stationaries in all designs and color themes available.

 

Automotive

BMW tried to sell their customers also a  kind of digital blind box for 16.8 Yuan (about 2.50 Euro) on their online shop, while offering the buyers the opportunity to visit their offline showroom in order to open the blind box there.

They collected data from the internet to select their target groups in advance and offered their digital blind box to potential customers only on  16th of August, the day of a Chinese festival. Over 7.000 digital blind boxes were sold and about 90 % of all buyers visited the offline showroom. Many buyers took a test drive with a BWM model as they were in the shop as well.

 

Business insights

  • As we mentioned in the article https://www.spiegel-institut.de/en/whatsnew/publications/innovation-is-the-key. The desire to collect the entire set is one of the main reasons when it comes to purchasing a blind box. This also leads to a very high re-purchase rate of blind boxes.
  • The combination of purchasing a digital blind box online and opening the blind box in the offline showroom creates a new and elevated customer experience and leads to a higher showroom visitor rate.
  • The idea of blind boxes is highly welcomed by GenZ, who are born after 1995. As overconsumption and materialism don’t satisfy them anymore, they start to seek for emotional stimulation and excitement, which has become another main purchase reason.

 

Author: Yue Liu, Spiegel Institut Mannheim

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