Why Adults Love to Collect the Little Shop Minis

02.10.2020 research

No matter the country or the retailer, the Little Shop loyalty campaign is always a hit with families. UNGA has rolled it out in 20 countries so far, and the least we can say is that youngsters are not the only ones crazy about the Little Shop collectibles. Adults also love to chase the minis at their local supermarket. So, how come adults are such big passionate Little Shop collectors?


Little Shop: A multi-generational phenomenon

As seen in the comments posted by Marks & Spencer’s community on Instagram during the Little Shop 2 campaign, many adults love to collect the Little Shop minis for their children and grandchildren. Both parents and grandparents see these little customer loyalty rewards as great additions to kids’ toys and games. Little Shop is indeed both fun and educational. It creates a great opportunity for kids to learn while playing and enjoying themselves.


Instagram comments during the M&S Little Shop 2 campaign in 2020.

Although many adults love collecting Little Shop minis for the youngest members of the family, it is not the only reason that they do so. According to a research conducted by UNGA after one of our Little Shop campaigns in 2018, 20% to 25% of grown-up respondents said they actually collected the miniatures for themselves rather than for their children or grandchildren.

During the two Little Shop campaigns run by Coles in Australia, one of the adult super fans was Christian Hull. The local YouTube star and comedian posted hilarious videos about his desperate quest for a full set of Little Shop miniatures. His YouTube videos and Facebook posts were viewed thousands of times.



Additionally, superstar Katy Perry was openly crazy about the miniatures as well. She even contacted Coles’ head office in an attempt to obtain the Little Shop merchandise after all of them were sold out in stores within a matter of days after the campaign started.

So, when we rolled out Little Shop at Marks & Spencer in the UK a year later, the retailer made sure to inform the singer that she had another chance to get her ‘miniature fix’.



It is clear that Little Shop wins all generations’ hearts, and the reasons for adults’ obsession with it are actually more psychological than we might think.


The Little Shop minis appeal to human instincts

After the huge success of Coles Little Shop 1 in 2018, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science (part of the University of Australia) conducted extensive research on the reasons for this hype. One of their conclusions was that there is something about miniatures that appeals to our instincts. In fact, there is evidence of their creation and use “in almost every human society, at almost every point in history,” said Professor Martin and Assistant Professor Langin-Hooper who specializes in figurines and miniaturization.

The appeal of miniatures is especially strong if they resemble everyday objects, such as the products we buy and use daily in the supermarket and at home. Little Shop minis look very familiar but then are slightly different, which really makes them unique and something we just want or need to have.


Credit: M&S

To add to that, miniatures stimulate a ‘cute’ response that triggers the same universal instinct that drives humans to be attracted by babies, puppies, and kittens. In other words, we just can’t help loving them and wanting to “take care” of them.


Collecting the Little Shop minis is an emotional experience

Within every Little Shop loyalty campaign that we roll out and that allows customers to complete the collection of mini groceries, the same psychological aspects play a role and make it a success.


Customers like to be rewarded by their retailer

Receiving a free, tangible reward is seen as something very positive by consumers. It is a gesture from the retailer to the shopper that nourishes their relationship. As UNGA Managing Partner Hong Liem puts it: “Physical rewards are a major driver of loyalty. They offer way more emotional bonding than any standard price discount.”

The fact that customers are gifted something nice for simply doing their grocery shopping is inviting, has a positive impact on the retailer’s image, and motivates shoppers to return.


Collecting them all is relatively easy

Taking part in the campaign is quite easy for customers. All they have to do is spend a certain amount on groceries—that they use and would buy otherwise anyway—that is usually well within their budget. In other words, shoppers don’t really have to change their behavior to be rewarded.

Moreover, the number of free items to collect is achievable within the time slot of the campaign. This is especially true when retailers also reward their customers with additional miniatures for buying certain products from participating brands, or if their friends and relatives help them complete the collection.

Surprise creates a memorable experience

The excitement of not knowing beforehand which miniature they will get adds to the thrill of collecting. A lot of people and children rip the flow packs open as soon as they pass the register, while others take them home and have their own unboxing session, together with their close ones. Discovering which mini they have got, together with the feeling of joy—if it is one of the missing ones—or disappointment—if it is a duplicate—is definitely one of the success factors of Little Shop.


Scarcity and the fear of missing out

Together with the retailers, we always do our best to make sure there are enough miniatures and extra merchandise in stock when a campaign starts. Sometimes though, the enormous interest in the campaign from both kids and grown-ups has led to the shortage of the products. While this is clearly not intentional, it does actually add to the hype of the campaign.

To complete their collections, children take their duplicates to school and swap them with friends. Grown-ups usually turn to Facebook and other social media platforms to swap their way to a full collection. Additionally, the retailers themselves often pitch in by organizing official Swap Days in-store, to help customers complete their collections.

Nevertheless, the hype can be so big that simply swapping is not enough. With Coles’ Little Shop campaign in Australia, this resulted in a lively trade on eBay, with prices going up to $1,000 or more for a complete set. And all that for miniatures that customers received for free at their supermarkets!


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