With Funko nearing its 25th anniversary, the global toy and collectible brand is taking a look toward its future and appears to have fan experiences at the center of it. Among the announcements made by Funko this week were the Fun on the Run tour (a cross-country trip with interactive stops on the way to San Diego Comic-Con), a Snoop Dogg-themed retail store coming to California, and a company trip to Brazil's massive Comic-Con event known as CCXP. Then, there's Pop! Candy whiich will deliver sweets with collectibles, puzzles to keep collectors busy, and the brand is also stepping into the digital space offering NFTs.
"I think moving out of the pandemic, we learned a lot about engaging a digital audience," Dave Beré, Funko's Vice President of Brand & Marketing, told ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview. "As we move back in person, first of all, we want to be back together with our fans in person that's important. So that's really the driver, but how can we be inclusive? Bring this virtual component along and couple that with the in-person experience and we just want to do more of that. We want it to be more than just the product that people are going to purchase." At San Diego Comic-Con, Funko went big with their Funkoville setup which dominated a large corner of the San Diego Convention Center and their Funko Fun Nights event. Fun Nights gathered a couple thousand fans into a ballroom for partying, cheering, collecting, and more.
"We continue want to push the boundaries and set the new standard," Beré said, speaking on in-person experiences with Funko. The Snoop Dogg store, formally named Tha Dogg House, will offer collectors across the street from SoFi Stadium a chance at exclusive items in the Pop! and Gold lines from Funko, as well as products from their standard massive mill of licenses. However, this does not mean more Funko stores will start popping up around the country any time soon. Beré said there is, "nothing imminent," when it comes to expanding the outright Funko stores. "You see where we have our stores today," he said. "We have the HQ and now we'll have two with this in Southern California. I think that we want to provide that experience for more fans." Still, he is optimistic about the prospect of more stores opening up in the future.
After all, Funko is much more than the Pop! figures many know them for. The brand recently took charge of Loungefly and Mondo which were both heavily featured in their FunkoVille setup at Comic-Con over the summer. The setup seems indicative of the future for the brands, a scene which saw one massive structure housing all of the Pop! figures sat in what was designed as being across the street from Mondo's building and Loungefly's building. Both separate shops maintained the energy of the respective brands housed inside. While they are very much in the same vein as Funko and the popular Pop! figures, both Loungefly and Mondo will continue to stand on their own while benefitting from the reach and licenses Funko has to offer.
"When we kicked off our consumer research, it was really, we know our collector. We know the fanatic, we know that demographic, we know how to market to them. All of that," Beré said. "This was really focused on the broader pop culture, understanding that. And I think if you understand how big and sizable that market is for how many people engage with pop culture, you'll find that there's a lot of different products outside of just figures that people connect with that they'll purchase and represent their identity and all of that. And I think that's where it gets really interesting as you start to think about Mondo and Loungefly in our portfolio, because I think we were truly creating product for everyone."
It's seen as a two-way street, too. "Mondo is so good at music. I think they can really help us out there," Beré explained. "Loungefly has a largely female customer base. I think we learn a lot from that and we partner with the marketers there to understand that, to see, identify connection points back to the Funko brand and we're connected as a marketing group. So we're always talking about what we're seeing, but it's always under the broad umbrella of pop culture."
With more than 1,100 licenses and three major brands, Funko is all set to celebrate its 25th anniversary its with eyes on the near future. "We're planning out, we're in '24 right now," Beré said. "So, I'd say from a base level that's important and, for Funko, that's further out than we've ever planned. But that doesn't mean we stay away from the magic of... Squid Game dropped on Netflix. Everyone's going crazy. We still have a pipeline that we keep open that pop culture's ever evolving, when Squid Game drops, we can turn around fast and have something to market in six months. So, do we plan? Yes. Lot tied to content? Yes. Lot tied to Evergreen? Yes. But we always keep that pipeline open to be ready to go, to give fans the latest and greatest of pop culture."