] Mobile messenger operator Kakao
has opened its flagship store for character products based on its mobile stickers, called Kakao Friends, in the posh Gangnam district, Seoul, aiming to expand its clout in the mobile world into the retail realm.
Despite the heavy rain in Seoul on Saturday, more than a thousand people formed a snaking line in front of the store on the opening day of the Kakao Friends Flagship Store.
Kakao`s flagship store in Gangnam. Kakao
As Kakao ran a series of promotional events on the opening day, such as giving out freebies, it successfully attracted more people than expected.
Kakao operates relatively small-scale retail stores across the nation, 16 in total, but the three-story flagship store located in the upscale district is the biggest yet for the company.
The types of products available at the new shop are also more diverse than those at other Kakao stores elsewhere.
Stepping inside the flagship store, visitors encounter a gigantic version of Ryan, a lion-inspired mobile messenger character that is highly popular among users of the KakaoTalk messenger recently.
On the floor of the flagship store, products based on Kakao’s eight popular mobile characters including Muzi and Apeach are displayed while visitors can buy household and fashion items on the second floor.
The Ryan cafe with 100 seats on the third floor allows Kakao Friends fans to relax with coffee, beverages and dessert.
“It took more than 30 minutes to get inside the store since there were so many people lining up outside to enter the store,” said Kim Ji-eun, a 28-year-old Seoulite who visited the store on Sunday.
Products up for sale at the store range from pens and mugs to slippers and stuffed toys, all of which are based on the Kakao Friends characters.
Kakao CEO Rim Ji-hoon has reportedly paid a visit to the store a day before the opening, reflecting the importance of the store in the firm’s drive for the retail business.
A consumer holding Kakao Friends character goods passes by lines of visitors waiting to enter Kakao's newly-opened flagship shop in Gangnam, Seoul on July 3. (The Investor/Sohn Ji-young)
Mobile stickers have garnered popularity among young messenger users in recent months worldwide, so more messenger firms, including Facebook, roll out their own stickers.
Line, operated by Tokyo-based Line Corp, is also pouring resources in nurturing the mobile sticker and retail businesses, running more than 44 retail stores in 11 nations for its mobile messenger character lineup, called Line Friends.
The firm’s operating profit generated by mobile stickers in the first quarter in 2016 stood at 382 billion won($332 million), taking up 22 percent of the firm’s operating income in the period.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com