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Blind boxes under tighter guideline

By CHENG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-18 09:19
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Consumers check out blind box toys at an outlet in Shanghai in June. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

New stipulations regulate prices, ban on sales to children under 8 years old

The State Administration for Market Regulation, China's top market regulator, stipulated that businesses shall not sell blind boxes to juveniles under 8 years old, as part of broader efforts to regulate the country's billion-dollar blind box industry.

A blind box is a popular way of packaging toys and other products to keep their contents hidden. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated that the market size of China's trendy toys, mainly including blind boxes, is expected to hit 47.8 billion yuan ($7.06 billion) this year.

According to the guideline, which is open to public opinion on the SAMR's website on Tuesday, businesses can only sell blind boxes to those aged 8 and above after obtaining the consent of their guardians.

The guideline said companies shall not bid up prices and should reasonably determine prices of blind boxes based on production and operation costs as well as market supply and demand. Prices of blind box products should not have a big gap from that of non-blind box products of the same quality, it said.

"The guideline will effectively regulate prices based on the value of the blind boxes. Currently, prices of some blind boxes are inconsistent with their value," said Chen Jianjie, a lawyer with Brighteous Law Firm.

In January, the China Consumers Association said that blind box consumption is expanding in a disorderly manner, from pets to air tickets, and increasing problems are also arising, including illegal sales, unknown probabilities and consumption addiction.

China Media Group reported a case in which a blind box was priced at 800 yuan but the actual cost was only about 30 yuan. Some consumers spend more than 10,000 yuan to buy blind boxes in order to get a limited-edition toy.

"It will also prevent the sector from becoming a gambling tool that infringes upon consumer rights," Chen said.

As some business operators sold blind boxes with pets inside, the SAMR draft guideline also clarified that live animals, drugs, medical devices, special cosmetics and unmarked express parcels cannot be sold in the form of blind boxes.

Following the news, Pop Mart, Chinese mainland's leading blind box company, started with a slight drop but closed with a 3.3 percent increase in share price on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The company said in a statement that the draft guideline is of positive significance and can offer clear directions to companies to operate in a standardized way, which helps the sector create a better business environment.

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