These days, game character industries such as Pok mon, Cookie Run, and MapleStory are more popular than ever. The reason for this surge in popularity might be sweeter than could imagine: the stickers that come packaged with the bread. The enthusiasm to get sticker bread is so hot that it sometimes causes problems. In this article, let me talk about every detail about sticker bread.
What is sticker bread?
Sticker bread refers to character bread sold at convenience stores and supermarkets. Each bread comes with a sticker that has a character on it. Sticker bread has been manufactured since 1997 and has maintained its popularity over the decades. It has a long history, so there are many kinds of bread. As the bread with stickers of Korean celebrities became quite popular in 1999, the sticker bread industry began collaborating with characters such as Pok mon, Digimon, and Kakao Friends.
Why is it so popular?
People born after 2000 think this is the first-time sticker bread that has become popular - but that is not true. In 1999, when the Pok mon animation gained explosive popularity in Korea, bread with Pok mon characters was released in collaboration with Shani, a confectionery company. This is the beginning of the present Pok mon bread. The reason why Pok mon bread is popular now is that elementary school students who loved Pok mon bread in the past have come into their 20s and 30s with strong purchasing power. The same goes for MapleStory sticker bread. With the release of bread with the theme of the MapleStory game, which was popular in the past, MapleStory is gaining popularity among people in their 20s and 30s by holding an event to provide items in the game.
Effects of sticker bread
Unfortunately, sticker bread doesn’t just have a good influence. Companies and local bakeries, which raise prices because they cannot withstand the pressure of inflation due to rising raw material prices, are seeing their incomes decrease. According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, the amount of wheat traded on the Chicago Futures Exchange increased 38.3% in the three months after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukraine War. As the milling industry relies on imports for more than 90% of wheat consumption, the baking industry is affected by rising global grain prices. In the meantime, the convenience store industry regards the crisis as an opportunity and is focusing on making mass-produced bread. In the past, mass-produced bread was perceived as unappetizing and inexpensive, but it has recently been considered a formula for success as a differentiated marketing strategy that stimulates memories of customers looking for a new experience. On the other hand, the local confectionery industry says, “It’s feeling like ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire.” This is because low-priced bread is already led by convenience stores, and it is not easy to adjust the selling price due to the characteristic of the business mainly focused on regular customers.
In addition, since stickers are the main products rather than the bread they come with, consumers often throw away the bread while only keeping the stickers. This also happened in the early and mid-2000s when Pok mon bread was released, and it was common at that time for elementary and middle school students to throw away the bread and only keep the stickers. And while it’s not as bad as throwing out perfectly good bread, there are cases where bread is handed over to others without stickers. There have even been frequent cases of trading stickerless bread on used markets. Additionally, some fans buy bread until they get a specific sticker because their favorite celebrity wants to have a sticker with a popular and rare character. When those stickers are released, they are presented to celebrities with the bread thrown away, taking away opportunities from people who want to eat sticker bread and creating environmental pollution.
Recently, some popular types of stickers are being sold at a considerable price through used items trading platforms. The most expensive stickers are sold for about 50,000 won, and if all the stickers from a set are collected, some people sell them for 800,000 won. There are cases that stickers are purchased by students and individuals with low economic means even when they can’t afford it. Because of that, some people may not be able to buy what they really need, or they might develop negative economic habits such as overspending.
There is nothing wrong with us collecting and displaying stickers appropriately and enjoying bread, but collecting too many stickers and overspending on sticker bread can cause a big social problem. Therefore, companies that sell sticker bread need to come up with campaigns against environmental pollution and waste of money.