KFC Mystery Box Campaign Has Shanghai Regulators Issuing Control Guidelines

Euromonitor estimates China’s toy market grew from RMB135 billion in 2013 to RM324 billion in 2018 a CAGR of 19%, however not all toys are catered for children. The craze sweeping across cities like Shanghai is the popular Mystery Box or Blind Box, where one does not know what toy will be presented when purchased.

The phenomenon has gotten so lucrative that marketers have used this tactic on every campaign they can possibly think of. Regulators had to step in when food chains started joining the bandwagon resulting in food wastage where consumers were more interested in chasing for the toys rather than eating the meal.

Shanghai is the first city to roll out guidelines to regulate the mystery box market in the city. Among the initiatives is to set pricing for the mystery boxes which should not exceed 200 yuan about RM120. The guidelines will also include age limits, where sellers are not permitted to sell these boxes to children under the age of eight, or carry out excessive marketing and speculation.

The biggest player in the country in mystery boxes, Pop Mart which is public listed has supported the move and has added that it will cooperate with the regulator to explore feasible detailed schemes.

Regulators acted after the China Consumers Association issued a statement on fast-food chain KFC’s newly launched set meal that offered limited-edition surprise box gifts that had caused irrational and excessive purchases of food. It added that the sales tactic goes against public order and good custom, and breaches the spirit of the law. 

According to Shanghai based consultant firm DaxueConsulting, Mystery Box or Blind Box have the same designs depiction the outside but have a unique minifigure on the inside, which are designed by different designers or artists. Palm-sized plastic figurines are individually packaged into opaque polybags and sold separately in so-called blind boxes. Normally, each character series consists of 12 figures. 12 blind boxes make up one package, and 12 packages comprise one carton. That means, one carton has 144 minifigures in total, in which 12 different styles are randomly distributed.

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