*Original Column by Our Writer*
This time it’s about “Character Café” in Thailand!
Several years ago, the coffee shop and café business gained huge reputations in Thailand. Many small entrepreneurs started their own shops and tried their best to grab those opportunities. However, as time passed, some businesses failed to keep their stability and ended respectively.
Entered the 2010s, more new ideas and innovations were emerged. With the existing popularity of character businesses, character-themed shops, restaurants, and cafés are opened.
Gudetama Cafe in Hong Kong
Characters such as Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Pokemon, and even Gundam got their own themed shops in Japan, Hong Kong, and so on. These places have interesting gimmicks and things to interact with. They are very popular destinations and considered tourist spots which attract both locals and foreigners.
In the last two or three years, Thai companies have also adapted this café practice. Thai companies got the interests in using character licenses for their own themed shops and restaurants.
The characters that already have their own café are Hello Kitty, Sirotan, Charlie Brown, Paul Frank, Moomin, B.duck, and Mr. Bean. They are very diverse options for the customers, ranging from Japanese to Western characters.
Character Cafés in Bangkok: B.Duck, Mr.Bean, Sirotan, and Paul Frank
Sanrio Hello Kitty House Bangkok
First is the “Sanrio Hello Kitty House Bangkok”, which is located in Bangkok’s main center Siam Square. Siam Square One building, the main destination for Thai teenagers, is the location of the café.
The origin of the shop is that the management team of the company was impressed by the other Hello Kitty cafés in other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and so on. With the growth of character businesses in Asia and the big Thai fan base of Hello Kitty, they decided to bring the license to open the café as Sanrio Hello Kitty House with the main purpose of making it the perfect house for all things Hello Kitty related.
The main concept of Sanrio Hello Kitty House is the “House of Happiness” which got the cute and refreshed feeling in the style of Hello Kitty. It is the biggest place in South East Asia that gathers all kind of Hello Kitty related products. It targets all ages, mainly female customers. There is no entrance fee and no time limit of stay.
Sanrio Hello Kitty House Bangkok – Shop front and inside
The place is divided into three sections; Café, Shop, and Spa, under the slogan of “Live – Laugh – Love”. The “Love” concept is for the Hello Kitty Shop and Spa on the basement floor. The shop sells both the exclusive products and other Kitty merchandizes. “Live” concept is for the café area which sells many sweets and drinks. For “Laugh” concept, it is the party area section in Café part which is wide and is best suit with events such as birthday parties.
Most of the customers seem to be either foreign tourists or Thai hardcore Kitty fans. Its Facebook page is getting very good responses from the followers with their online promotions. Even though the sales are not as high as when they opened the shop two years ago, the place is still strong with its royal customers and is considered as a highly recommended travel spot in Siam Square.
Another popular restaurant in the middle of Siam Square is the café of the white hippopotamus-lookalike Moomin. Moomin Café is located in the fourth floor of Siam Center. It was opened in the beginning of 2016, and was super popular in its launching period. Even though the popularity of the shop declined a little, many tourists and local Thais still make visits to the place every day.
Moomin Café – Shop front and inside
As we made a visit to the café, we can feel the uniqueness and characteristics of this place. The size of Moomin Café is quite compact. The place is not as big as Hello Kitty House, but it is considered in a comforting size.
The atmosphere in the shop is just right: warm, comfy, friendly, and welcoming. The main gimmick of the place is that the customers will never feel alone, since there are Moomin dolls everywhere to accompany them. Even when customers come by themselves, they can enjoy the decorations and friendliness of Moomin.
The variety of food menus is good as well, with wide range from steaks to sweets. The price is reasonable compared to normal non-themed café. This is one of the place to visit when visiting Bangkok for sure.
By looking at the character café business in Thailand, in general, there are so many potentials in opening one. With the growth in popularity of cartoon characters in Thailand, more obscure characters such as Gudetama, Rilakkuma, and Kumamon have potentials to have their own café shops.
It is a matter of time before companies realize that possibility and try to evolve their businesses with character licenses. When the number of character cafés increase, the economy of Thailand will also become better with tourism having more alternatives for foreigners.