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Line crosses into real-world retail with NY pop-up store

Popular social messaging application Line has opened its first pop-up store in North America, bringing a selection of products based on characters that appear in the app and mobile-driven promotions to shoppers visiting New York’s Times Square.

Line, which has seen significant success in Asia and is now trying to expand its reach internationally, is one of the few mobile-first brands to try to translate its digital success to the physical world with a bricks-and-mortar presence and licensed merchandise. The Line store at 1515 Broadway in New York is open from Dec. 9 to Dec. 31.

“With our powerful, user-friendly mobile platform, Line has seen phenomenal growth in the global market, including in North America,” said Eddie Kim of Line’s marketing team. “Our Line Friends Pop-up store in NYC showcases a full-range of Line official products featuring our beloved characters such as Brown, Cony, Moon, James and more.

“With our Line characters, Line Friends Pop-up shop and Line app, we are able to demonstrate the many ways we are bringing people closer together while connecting mobile commerce and offline experiences,” he said.

Growing physical presence
Shoppers visiting the Line store will find an array of products, including stationary, stuffed toys, mugs and jewelry based original characters from the app such as Brown, Cony, Moon, James and more.

Previously, official Line character products were only available through promotional activities, prizes or contests.

Shoppers will be able to take photos with Line characters. The store will also feature daily promotions and gifts for selected participants.

For example, one day this week, select shoppers who downloaded the Line app and followed the Z100 Official Account had a chance to win tickets to the sold out Jingle Ball Concert in New York and meet Maroon 5.

Additionally, when shoppers download the Line app in the store and add the Line Friends Official Account, they will receive a 10 percent discount on their entire purchase.

This is Line’s thirteenth pop-up store around the world. Others have appeared in Beijing, Bangkok and Jakarta.

Mobile-first brands
The messaging app enables users to make calls and send messages for free. It is a leading free app in numerous countries, including Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.

Users can also make in-app purchases of stickers featuring its own original characters as well as famous characters from outside the app.

Users of the app send over 13 billion messages per day.

Only a few mobile-first brands have become popular enough to support a real-world presence.

One other such brand would be the Angry Birds game, which has spawned a wealth of licensed merchandise, including stuffed toys and apparel.

“Mobile-first businesses have an advantage in a heightened level of engagement with their customers that strictly brick and mortar business can attain,” said Sep Seyedi, CEO of Plastic Mobile. “No matter how many times you visit your favorite local coffee shop in a day, it’s not going to be the same as taking it home with you, waking up to it on your phone, or seeing their name on your device every time you unlock your phone.

“Mobile users are now ready to take these intimate relationships, with the businesses that serve them on mobile, to the next level and experience them in a more tangible manner,” he said

“Pop-up shops lend themselves perfectly to this opportunity, but we’ll be seeing more mobile-first businesses make permanent fixtures of themselves in brick and mortar going forward.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York