Think LINE is just a chat app company? Please. We visited its three-storey mall in Itaewon, Seoul, to get a better idea
LINE may be most well known for its flagship namesake mobile messaging app, and perhaps for the games on its platform as well, but here’s something many people may not know: the company also generates revenue through merchandise sales (which also increase and strengthen brand recall among customers!).
In South Korea, the home country of LINE’s parent company Naver Corporation, seeing a massive Brown bear (one of the four main mascots of LINE) in the middle of a mall is no big deal. In fact, while we were walking around in Itaewon, Seoul, we saw three floors of a building dedicated to LINE Friends, the name given to the cartoon mascots on LINE.
Of course we decided to walk in. Of course we did.
Welcome in, here’s a plastic basket, and feel free to grab anything you like – from baby clothes to keychains to stuffed toys. There’s a B612 selfie machine, because why not? Take a selfie, slap on that filter, and send it to your friends.
Never mind the fact that you don’t even have a baby – these clothes look too darn adorable. Boom? Tennis racquet-wielding dolls? We’ll take an XLLLLL.
Think chat apps are all about the $0.99 virtual sticker pack? Here’s a loud “Nope!” from LINE.
Jewellery for you? We didn’t see too many people stopping by the bracelets and earrings section, though!
Forget Barbie dolls, LINE is somehow winning Mattel’s market share with these stoic Brown plushies, all dressed up for different occasions.
The thing about LINE and whatever merchandise it’s selling in this mall is this: it’s trying to sell people the idea that if they love a brand enough, they can build a house made up of LINE and only LINE items. Hell, if users could build a house made up of LINE bricks, and the company would gladly endorse the bricks, we think that there might just be a market.
So, there’s nothing surprising about seeing a LINE bed or couch or basically, whatever. Oh and guess what? Here, they’ve even showed you how you can do it yourself.
The third floor of the LINE Friends outlet in Itaewon is cordoned off for customers wanting to sit down and enjoy a cuppa or two.
The cafe functions like any other coffee shop in town, equipped with a sales counter, an area displaying various desserts and beverages, and lots and lots of tables and chairs for patrons to rest.
These chairs were just a tad small for our bottoms, but we’re sure they’d fit the next toddler just fine.
For those interested, this is the address of the LINE Friends store in Itaewon:
126 Hangangno-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Phone number: 02-790-0901
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