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Kakao celebrates 6-year anniversary of Kakao Emoticons

  • Buyers grow by a whopping 40% every year in Emoticon Store.
  • Cumulative emoticon products rose 900 times in 6 years to reach 5,500 items.
  • There are now big-shot emoticon artists who sell 1B won’s worth of emoticons per year.


[2017-11-29] In celebrating the 6-year anniversary, the Emoticon Store of Kakao (CEO Jihoon Rim) revealed how it has grown for the past six years as well as the development of the emoticon market and this year’s hot emoticons.

# Service area expansion and explosive growth of the Emoticon Store

Kakao’s Emoticon Store has created an environment where users can express diverse feelings using a simple means by adopting attractive emoticons to Korea’s top mobile messenger, KakaoTalk. Over the past six years, as many as 17 million users purchased emoticons. The number of purchasers has grown aggressively by a whopping 40% yearly, while cumulative emoticon products also rose 900 times in six years to exceed 5,500 items. It is estimated that approximately 2 billion emoticon messages are sent on KakaoTalk on a monthly basis, and 27 million KakaoTalk users have chats on KakaoTalk using emotions instead of texts per month.

This year, many emoticons were loved by users. Kakao’s data shows that “Overaction Rabbit & Little Bear” (DK), “Fun Puppies” (Funppy), “Today’s Meme” (MOH Inc) and “Insincere Replies” (Killer Whale) were most popular emoticons in 2017. In addition, Kakao introduced two new emoticons, Little Friends which is the younger version of Kakao Friends and a new character, Niniz. They have also drawn a lot of attention from users.

Kakao emoticons are now a part of people’s daily life as a content and also penetrating into various areas. They can now be used in not only KakaoTalk but also other Kakao Services such as KakaoStory, Daum Cafe and Melon. A Web Store has opened where emoticons can be purchased using various payment methods including gift certificates, as an attempt to diversify the purchase channel. Furthermore, Kakao has employed a win-win strategy through which the platform and creators can be exposed at the same time using diverse channels, such as the Studio X project where Kakao collaborates with illustrators, graphic designers and fashion designers who have no experience as emoticon artists to create new emotions, and the opening of the Biz Emoticon Store where businesses or self-employed entrepreneurs can purchase emotions in large quantities for marketing purposes.

# Equal opportunities for all – Shared growth between the platform and creators

Kakao’s Emoticon Store had a humble beginning in Nov 2011, offering six types of emoticons – four by web cartoonists (Kang Full, Narm, Lee Mal Nyun, Yellow Kumi) and two characters, Puka and Bad Badtz-Maru. Emoticons based on the webtoons of top cartoonists and popular characters attracted the attention of the public at the time. Now that emoticons have grown as a content genre, emoticon designer as a career is beginning to gain popularity. Emoticon Store has become a power platform where emoticon designers can show their competence.

In particular, many new creators including webtoonists and character designers joined Emoticon Store through the Emoticon Studio held in April this year, which provided an opportunity for anyone to submit emoticon ideas without restrictions. The event was open to not only well-known cartoonists but also the general public, and many fresh talents took on the challenge. At present, Kakao has emoticon artists from all age groups from teens to 60s, and many of them live abroad. There is no restriction when it comes to emoticon artists’ age, occupation or residence.

As emoticons become popular, the number of “start creators” is also steadily increasing. 24 creators sold 1B won’s worth of emoticons in 2017 per person, which shows that they now have a great influence and presence. Some artists turn already-popular characters into emoticons maintaining their popularity in the new market, while other artists begin with emoticons and then collaborate with character and other businesses, expanding creation and revenue areas. Kakao provides opportunities for emoticon creators to work more actively and to create more profits.

“Kakao is working hard to create an environment where platforms and creators can grow together.” said Hee-Jung Kim, Kakao’s Digital Item Team Manager. “We will continue to provide support this win-win partnership.”



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