Australia has been swept up in the manic collecting craze that is the Coles Little Shop campaign.
The campaign was launched on 18 July and offers customers a small collectible replica of some of the biggest brands the supermarket stocks, when they spend $30 or more.
There are 30 items to collect – as well as some limited edition collectibles – and customers can purchase a case to store their prized collection.
The campaign has struck a chord with Aussie shoppers across the country, with punters already listing the full case of collectibles on eBay for nearly $200.
So what is it about these mini-collectibles that has the country so eager to collect them all?
The collectibles trend has been hot in the toy industry for a while now, with the likes of Lol Surprise, Shopkins and Hatchimals taking the toy industry by storm, so it's no surprise that kids want to collect this new form of their favourite kind of toy.
Collecting has always been a strong trend in the toy industry – I remember collecting different Snoopies from McDonalds as a kid, and there's been Pokémon cards and Tazos too – and Funko is making sure that teenagers and adults continue to collect toys, well after they put down their childhood collections.
The Little Shop toys also come in blind bags, capitalising on another prominent trend – the 'surprise'. The element of surprise has been hugely successful for toy companies and goes hand-in-hand with the 'unboxing' trend seen on social media – in fact the below 'unboxing' video of the Coles Little Shop items has over 116,000 views.
Coles has also latched onto the exclusivity element of collectible toys, with the glittery, glow-in-the-dark, 'red hand' named as a limited edition item. We can just look at old faithful, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to see what exclusivity does to consumers. It's more colloquially known these days as FOMO.
Aside from utilising current trends in the toy industry, the Coles Little Shop collectibles are being described by collectors as 'cute'.
But what makes them cute?
Konrad Lorenz – an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist – first said that humans find things cute if they are small in body size, have large heads and eyes and have round and soft features – all the characteristics found in a baby.
These traits can be applied to other things such as animals and objects, and when a human finds something cute, the Nucleus Accumbens (pleasure centre in the brain) is activated and dopamine is released.
This is the same area of the brain that lights up when people engage in 'reward' activities such as eating, having sex or taking drugs. Cuteness is addictive.
According to American educator and man behind the educational YouTube channel Vsauce, Michael Stevens, cuteness has a powerful affect on our behaviours.
“Cuteness is such a powerful force on the brain in fact, that it can affect our behaviours – what we like, what we buy.”
So these tiny versions of familiar brands are cute to consumers because they are so small. When they add to their collection, dopamine is released in their brains and they want more.
What also can't be ignored is the influence brand loyalty has on the need to collect these collectibles in particular.
Unlike the popular toy collectibles mentioned above, the Little Shop campaign has big brand names behind it, driving the need for consumers to get their hands on a tiny version of their favourite products.
From a supplier point of view, being a part of the Little Shop campaign means that your brand will be getting in front of children from a young age and is likely to influence a fondness towards the brand later in life.
Kids are playing 'shops' with these items and when they get to a purchasing age, may not only choose a brand name over a generic one, but may also choose to shop at Coles over a competitor, because of the positive association formed as a child.
What we can take from this is that it seems Coles has taken a good look at what is hot in the toy industry and has applied it to their own version of a collectible, while also using big brands to drive the need to collect.
What do you think about the promotion? Leave your comments below.