China Can’t Get Enough of Olympic Mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen

What Happened: A star is born at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Yet, we are not talking about an athlete. The Beijing 2022 Games’ official mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen — a panda wearing an icy body shell that looks like an astronaut — has gone viral in China since the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday.

Online, mascot-themed items have sold out immediately since their release on the Tmall and official Olympics flagship stores. Offline, a 900-foot line was moving slowly in front of the licensed flagship store on Wangfujing pedestrian street in Beijing on Sunday. In fact, hundreds of people lined up for four to five hours to get their panda souvenirs. And on the local microblogging site Weibo, Bing Dwen Dwen amassed over 20 related trending hashtags on the platform’s Hot Search, with the hashtag #BingDwenDwen garnering 2.8 billion views thus far.

Weibo users share that Bing Dwen Dwen merchandise has sold out online. Photo: Weibo screenshots

The Jing Take: Local netizens are calling for the Games’ organizers to meet this surging demand so they can realize the goal of “one Dwen at each family” (another hashtag currently trending on Weibo). Analysts from Shanxi Securities estimate that the total revenue from selling Beijing Olympic licensed products could reach $394.8 million (2.5 billion yuan) during the Games. The immense popularity of the mascot undoubtedly indicates the success of the Winter Olympics in China.

Moreover, Bing Dwen Dwen is not the only item to be sold out: national team down jackets from the opening ceremony by Arc’teryx, Canada Goose, and Lululemon have all sold out. Meanwhile, Anta, the official domestic partner of the Winter Olympics, saw its puffer coat sales jump 203 percent from Friday night to noon on Saturday on, year-on-year. In light of this, the winter sports-related industries and products are expected to benefit for years to come. Luxury brands are not missing out on this opportunity either, with Prada, Dior, and Moncler recently launching capsules for winter sports activities.

The boom behind this adorable panda mascot is not a coincidence. In fact, it is only reaffirming the popularity of “meng” 萌 culture — a term for the local preference for cuddly things — in China. Online netizens shared that Bing Dwen Dwen’s lovely aspect was the main reason behind their purchases. Evidently, cuteness has become a key to local Gen Zer and millennial marketing. As such, luxury brands should further explore the potential of cartoon IP collaborations in the country.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.