China is witnessing the rise of a new artistic phenomenon among youngsters and art fanatics alike – the Guka sticker trend. To put it simply, “Guka” consists of decorating a card with stickers in a similar fashion as children who grew up between the 80s and 90s did on their desks and books during their childhood.
Such stickers have been upgraded to a complete set of exquisite tools including Guka cards for decorating, tweezers, and tag chains to attach to the sticker card. According to one Guka user on Douyin (who is only 11 years old), the art form consists of three main steps: tear off, paste, and string.
First, the user will have to tear off a layer of protective film on the surface of the Guka plate and then, using special tweezers, tear off their sticker of choice. Then, all the user has to do is place the torn sticker on the plate and use their imagination to arrange and combine patterns to create their ideal design or visual story. The last step is to string a small chain to the card in order to hang it for display or attach it to school bags.
In terms of pricing, the price has risen from a few cents to tens of dollars. One Guka card priced at 19.9 RMB (2.89 USD) was able to amass 2 million RMB (290,756 USD) in sales from Douyin alone. According to data from Xindou, estimated sales from Guka-related products in one month alone garnered more than one million RMB (145,378 USD). On Taobao, the most expensive Guka set amounts to nearly 400 RMB (58.15 USD).
From Disney China’s LinaBell and Duffy and Friends to Sanrio’s character Kuromi, the sticker trend has blown up among elementary school children on Chinese social media. On Xiaohongshu specifically, the topic “Guka” has garnered more than 610,000 notes with 250 million views. Meanwhile, the respective hashtag amassed 2.45 billion views on China’s leading short video platform Douyin.
Even parents have become huge proponents of this trend and regard it as an excellent way for their children to use their time (and brains) instead of reverting to playing on their mobile phones all the time. Not only is it a good substitute, but it can also help improve children’s concentration, it is easy to use, and quite affordable for all to enjoy.
Miniso has also leaned into the trend, pairing up with Disney to release special edition stickers featuring characters from Toy Story and Monsters Inc.
Interestingly enough, this sticker trend originated from K-pop fans who often bought stickers of their idols and carefully pasted them on the cards. The word “Guka” is the transliteration of “postcard” in Korean.
The popularity of Guka stickers first rose in 2022 from the Chinese internet. According to Baidu’s search index, the search results for “Guka” amounted to zero up until February 2022, when the search result began to surge upwards reaching its peak at the end of the year and again at the beginning of 2023.
Due to its exquisite style and endless DIY designs, Guka content instantly took off setting a huge wave of traffic, most of which stemmed from bloggers and life vloggers. For instance, the Douyin account “Young Artist Hand Account” with 4.82 million followers posted multiple Guka videos and the highest number of videos singlehandedly garnered 740,000 likes. Meanwhile, a Xiaohongshu blogger made a lifesize Guka card and amassed 300,000 interactions.
The Guka trend also attracted attention from KOLs and celebrities. Chinese actress Zhu Xudan posted her own Guka design on Xiaohongshu, which received over 90,000 likes. Meanwhile, the clothing brand manager of “I am your CC” released a short video of her Guka process which amassed a whopping one million likes.
How can brands tap into this trend?
One perk of this sticker trend is the versatility it brings. In terms of product marketing, Guka can be used for essentially everything from cards to mahjong to mobile phone cases and anything else that has a surface that can be transformed into an acrylic board. Even toilet lids, computer screens, and tables can be used as a surface for “Guka”.
This trend presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with Chinese consumers in a more engaging and playful way. By incorporating Guka stickers into their social media and advertising campaigns, brands can leverage this trend to increase brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and drive engagement.
One way brands can leverage the Guka sticker trend is by creating their own branded Guka stickers. This allows them to connect with consumers in a more personalised and interactive way, while also promoting their brand in a fun and creative way. For instance, a beauty brand could create Guka stickers that feature their product line or showcase beauty tips, while a food brand could create Guka stickers that showcase their dishes or promote new menu items.
Brands can also collaborate with popular Guka sticker creators to reach a wider audience. These creators often have a large following on social media, and partnering with them can help brands tap into their loyal fan base. For example, a fashion brand could collaborate with a popular Guka sticker creator to design a limited-edition line of clothing or accessories featuring the creator’s Guka characters.
All in all, the Guka sticker trend in China presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with Chinese consumers in a more playful and engaging way. By incorporating Guka stickers into their social media and advertising campaigns, brands can leverage this trend to increase brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and drive engagement. With the Guka sticker trend showing no signs of slowing down, now is the time for brands to start embracing this playful and creative phenomenon.