According to a secondhand online market platform, Pokémon bread was the most searched word in the first two weeks of March (from February 28 to March 13). The bakery item had over 367,000 search requests. Consumers who are fans, share the time convenience stores restock the product, follow delivery trucks that they assume to carry the bread, and even wait in line for it to appear back on the shelves. So, why is this bread especially loved in South Korea these days?
|▲ Picture of Customer Buying Pokémon Bread (Photo from Herald)|
Pokémon bread is a source of nostalgia for the MZ generation, people who were born between 1981 to 2005 who grew up enjoying the treat and the associated fad. The product was re-released after a 16-year hiatus, bringing back fond memories of buying the bread and collecting the stickers for the MZ generation, especially those who are in their 30s and 40s. The product was packaged with one of 159 random stickers made depicting Pokémon characters. The stickers could attach and detach easily. Some of the stickers were considered rare and hard to get, which attracted consumers to buy the bread in hoards to increase the value of their sticker collection. These easy-to-stick stickers, especially the hard to get ones, were so highly valued that a strong re-sell market developed. The bread, a single sticker, or the whole collection of stickers were sold on secondhand markets well, over their original market price. Nowadays, retro-marketing that provokes feelings of nostalgia and the joy of collecting the stickers, is once again encouraging consumers to take part in this latest uptake in an old-school popular wave.
The Pokémon bread craze is an example of generation MZ’s “digging” culture. Digging culture, which comes from the word dig, as in the act of mining, refers to a new consumption culture in which consumers search far and wide for their preferred products. At first, the term was used when someone found someone else attractive and listened to their favorite music, but its usage has gradually expanded to various fields such as art, food, and sports. In general, the MZ generation likes to express and reveal themselves in various ways to enjoy their hobbies and grow their happiness. For example, they can create and express their own unique characteristics by taking pictures and uploading their favorite style of clothes or their own decorated rooms on social network services. Within the MZ generation, consumption has also been recognized as a way to reveal the identities that are so naturally established in the digging culture. They are actively interested in finding information on products they are seeking out such as searching for related parties' social network services or searching for keywords to read honest reviews and then agonize about them. They think of the process of collecting information as a game and enjoy forming relationships by sharing the information with people with similar interests through social media.
|▲ Pokémon Bread and Easy-to-Stick Stickers (Photo from Chosun)|
The Dankook Herald (DKH) conducted a short survey to learn more about the consumption culture of the MZ generation. Contrary to our expectations, only 23.5% have bought the bread before and only 14.3% bought the bread to collect the stickers. 13 out of 17 had no experience buying the Pokémon bread. Two out of four Dankookians (Students of Dankook University) answered that they would resell the stickers on the secondhand market. One Dankookian said they had bought it just for the sticker, while another said they bought it to simply try the bread. 2 Dankookians out of 10 answered that they had collected stickers from bread before, but not Pokémon bread. Another 8 Dankookians answered they had never collected or tried either. The second question of the survey was to figure out if Dankookians enjoyed “digging” culture. Surprisingly, 11 out of 17 Dankookians were experienced with collecting stuff. The other 6 students had no experience in collecting anything. We also asked if they have ever shared information on social media about where to buy these hot ticket items. 11 out of 17 Dankookians answered that they had, but the rest did not.
Compared to the high demand for Pokémon bread, there is never enough supply, so people are being forced to line up in front of convenience stores and wait until the products arrived. In some cases, people chased down delivery trucks to get access to their precious cargo, the Pokémon bread. All these behaviors and the practice of sharing information about product sightings and deliveries, and the collecting of stickers, are examples of the digging culture of the MZ generation.
이소연, 강민영, 김주연 firstname.lastname@example.org