WeChat sticker development becomes an emerging industry in China
Have you ever been in a "sticker competition" when you have a conversation via WeChat, China's most popular instant messaging app?
WeChat stickers, which have become an indispensable part of daily communication for many users, are now emerging as a profitable industry in China, Chinanews.com reported.
Zhong Chaoneng, 24, earned 500,000 yuan (around 75,544 U.S. dollars) by releasing the "Well-Behaved Baby" sticker series, which was downloaded 150 million times in just two years.
Sticker set "Well-Behaved Baby" [Photo: WeChat]
"I seized the opportunity in 2015 when more and more internet companies started to develop stickers, providing designers with space to create," said Zhong.
Zhong left his job at an animation company to become a full-time sticker designer, and he also plans to build a team.
"Stickers are now being updated very fast," Zhong said of the increasingly competitive sticker industry, "You have to speed up, or you will be knocked out."
Liu Wenjia, also a sticker creator, has received rewards through WeChat pay from over 15,000 users of her sticker character "Xiaoliuya," a cute duck with sausage-shaped lips.
Sticker set "Xiaoliuya" [Photo: WeChat]
So far, the WeChat sticker platform has more than 21,000 sets like "Well-Behaved Baby" and "Xiaoliuya."
"The more important value of stickers is to cultivate intellectual property (IP)," said WeChat's sticker gallery team, "Once an IP has gained brand awareness, it can be operated through IP authorization and IP plus advertising."
To produce the additional products related to stickers, such as toys, cushions, and brooches, is also a method of business operation, according to Liu Wenjia.
Developed in 2006, Tuzki is now one of the most influential sticker characters in China. Turner, an American media conglomerate, has decided to cooperate with Tencent to make a film with Tuzki as the leading role, according to reports.
A model of Tuzki at a mall in Shenyang, capital of east China’s Liaoning Province, on October 9, 2017 [Photo: IC]
"There is still a huge market demand in China," said Wang Biaozeng, founder and CEO of Block12, an animation development company.
Wang added that they have built an "integrated industrial chain of content creation, business operation, IP authorization and derivative consumption."
While the development of sticker IP is still in the initial stages in China, there are already multiple successful cases in some other countries.
LINE, a Japanese instant communication app, features diverse sticker characters including the well-known Moon, Bear Brown, Bunny Cony and James.
A customer poses with a large stuffed Bear Brown toy at a LINE theme cafe in Shanghai on September 29, 2015. [Photo: IC]
According to LINE, it has gained considerable revenue not only from users paying for stickers but also from developing cartoons, derivative products and offline experience stores related to sticker characters.