Highly popular ‘blind boxes’ under the microscope in China
The State Administration for Market Regulation, China's top market regulator, stipulated that businesses should not sell “blind boxes” to juveniles under eight years old, as part of broader efforts to regulate the country’s billion-dollar industry.
A blind box is a popular way of packaging toys and other products to keep their contents hidden. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated that the market size of China’s trendy toys, mainly blind boxes, is expected to hit 47.8 billion yuan (249.1 billion baht) this year.
According to a draft guideline, businesses can only sell blind boxes to those aged eight and above after obtaining the consent of their guardians.
The guideline said companies should not bid up prices and should reasonably determine prices of blind boxes based on production and operation costs as well as market supply and demand. Prices of blind box products should not have a big gap from that of non-blind box products of the same quality, it said.
“The guideline will effectively regulate prices based on the value of blind boxes. Currently, prices of some boxes are inconsistent with their value,” said Chen Jianjie, a lawyer with Brighteous Law Firm.
In January, the China Consumers Association said that blind box consumption was expanding in a disorderly manner, from pets to air tickets, and increasing problems are also arising, including illegal sales, unknown probabilities and consumption addiction.
China Media Group reported a case in which a blind box was priced at 800 yuan but the actual cost was only about 30. Some consumers spend more than 10,000 yuan to buy blind boxes in order to get a limited-edition toy.
“It will also prevent the sector from becoming a gambling tool that infringes upon consumer rights,” Chen said.
As some business operators sold blind boxes with pets inside, the draft guideline also clarified that live animals, drugs, medical devices, special cosmetics and unmarked express parcels cannot be sold in the form of blind boxes.
Following the news, Pop Mart, the Chinese mainland’s leading blind box company, started with a slight drop but closed with a 3.3 per cent increase in share price on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The company said in a statement that the draft guideline is of positive significance and can offer clear directions to companies to operate in a standardised way, which helps the sector create a better business environment.
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