Kidult is a word that combines kid and adult. It is used to refer to adults who keep their kidlike joy of life. In past, kidult was identified as the Peter Pan Syndrome which was used to describe people who deny their adults responsibilities and want to stay as kids. However, now the image of kidult is changing in a positive way referring to people who keep their childlike innocence in our modern complicated world.
People within the kidult culture buy or use certain products. These can include animation model figures and plastic models, but also it contain many other things. University students and fulltime workers prefer interesting and funny products rather than purchasing serious and traditional products. Also, kidults will commonly buy products depicting their favorite characters. For example, women will buy cute little dolls to hang off their bags or cell phones. Middle aged men, however, will commonly buy drones or radio controlled products.
This culture has spread very fast and its related markets have experienced record high growth rates. Last year, McDonald provided little Super Mario character figures to customers who bought their kid meals. The figures gained massive popularity and many people bought McDonald products just to collect the figures. Also, the price of figures became very expensive in second hand markets. After this successful campaign, McDonald released products that are animation themed to fascinate Korea’s kidult culture. Because of McDonald’s success, other enterprises also launched their own products targeting kidult. Accordingly, there are now many different kinds of products provided to kidults. For example, figures of Japan animations, marvel comics and movies, Lego, drone, dolls, Barbie and etc. In Korea, more than 70% customers have experiences purchasing kidult products although they are not recognized. Expanding the scale of kidult market, many kidult expos and fairs are held. In March 2015, there were ‘Kidult & Hobby Expo’ and 200 companies and more than 100,000 people enjoyed the festival. As a result of its popularity, related markets recorded more than 500 billion in sales during 2015 and the kidult market is expected to grow by 20% per year and achieve 1000 billion in sales within 2-3 years.
The background of the kidult’s fast grow is a product of modern people who have stress because of various problems such as strong competition, difficulty in employment and other emotional stresses. They, in turn, can decrease their stress through the kidult culture and feel sense of freedom or inspiration, so they can improve their life satisfaction index.