What are the most effective Kpop marketing strategies that companies are implementing to skyrocket the popularity of Kpop artists across the globe? Continue reading for more!
Whether you like Kpop or not, there is no doubt that the South Korean music industry has completely taken over the world. Nowadays, it has become popular not only in South Korea or Asian countries, but across the whole world.
BTS: Dynamite music video
Kpop artists are breaking record after record. Last year, the popular group BTS set a new YouTube record attracting more than 101.1 million views within 24 hours for their music video Dynamite. They even entered the Guinness World Records!
In 2020, the Korean girl group Blackpink broke the YouTube record for the most viewers for a live video premiere, reaching 1.66 million peak concurrent viewers with their single How You Like That.
As a Marketer and someone who has been enjoying Korean pop a lot recently, I was very curious about the Kpop Marketing strategies that record labels are implementing for their artists.
Disclaimer: the groups that I show are the groups that I know, and the ones that I found to have good examples for what I want to express. I am relatively new to Kpop, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t like other groups!
Also, if something I said is wrong regarding Kpop, feel free to correct me as well – this article is exclusively my own perspective and observations from a Marketing’s point of view, and is not the absolute truth.
How do they achieve this level of popularity? How do they reach such a global audience with music that’s made mainly in Korean language? Today, we will dive into Kpop Marketing, and we will see what is their secret recipe to success:
1. Brilliant teaser strategy
The first thing that I noticed that Kpop labels do before launching a new music video is that there are weeks, sometimes months of hype behind it. They are really masters of teasing the audience – especially companies like JYP and YG.
I think it’s one of the most effective Kpop Marketing strategies, especially if the video builds up to the hype. In other countries such as the USA, I never saw this promotional style, at least not in so many small dosis over such a long period of time.
One great example of a brilliant teaser strategy is the first solo single from Blackpink’s Rosé, which was released on March 2021.
Kpop Marketing strategies #1: Create a hype behind your product
However, both the label and Rosé started talking about her solo debut in December 2020, and the first teaser of it was released on 25 January for the second song “Gone”.
After the first teaser, YG kept teasing the audience with multiple other mini video teasers:
And we are not even talking about social media yet! YG not only teased the audience on YouTube, but the whole Instagram feed was full of gorgeous and mysterious images about her solo debut and mini album.
The aesthetic feed, combined with images that were barely saying anything, got people excited about what’s coming up (me included).
2. Powerful social media presence
Speaking of social media, one of the Kpop marketing strategies that Korean record labels do really, really well is establishing a powerful presence on social media channels.
While we briefly touched on it in our previous section, it deserves a separate point just because they do it so well, and it adds to building up a hype that turns into million views on YouTube.
One example that I find absolutely brilliant is Itzy, who are about to launch a new music video. To get the audience excited, they have been consistently publishing amazing images and videos on their Instagram feed:
Kpop Marketing strategies #2: Establish a powerful social presence
They’ve been posting consistently all over their social media channels, and their content is so well curated and nicely done that you just can’t wait for their new video.
While most companies in the entertainment industry are relying heavily on social media, Kpop labels are pumping up an extraordinary amount of quality content, which makes them stand out and establish a powerful community.
Another thing that makes social presence in Kpop different is because in most cases, Korean pop groups share a single social account for all members of the group instead of managing individual accounts for each member.
This means that fans only need to follow one page, which makes this page gain followers faster. Additionally, it also means more content more frequently, and social media algorithms love that!
3. Timing between songs
When it comes to effective Kpop Marketing strategies, another thing that I noticed is that Korean pop groups launch new music videos very scarcely, usually with many months between each video.
Please, correct me if I am wrong since I am a new Kpop fan, but this is something that I find really interesting because it achieves a few things:
- With so much time, people really start craving the next song.
- It gives the label enough time to build a hype strategy.
- And enough time to promote the song before and after release.
From my own observations, I have come to the conclusion that most labels do a very heavy promotion for their music videos, in ways that Western labels don’t – which we are going to see in our next section.
Instead, Kpop focuses on delivering a really high quality piece of content, and then promoting it as much as possible.
4. Maximizing content delivery
Another one of the awesome Kpop Marketing strategies that companies do to gain local and global visibility is to make the most out of their existing content. I really love the way they are doing it, and I find it brilliant.
Let me explain.
Most Western artists just release their new music video, and that’s it. At most, they will release a behind the scenes video, and they are good to go. Kpop labels, on another hand, really make the most out of their content.
Of course, not all labels are doing all of this, but here are some of the actions worth mentioning:
Kpop Marketing strategies: Performance video. Itzy – Dalla Dalla.
Apart from the main music video, Kpop labels often release a performance video as well. While regular videos include different scenes from different places, and not only dance scenes, performance videos are focused purely on dancing.
They are basically the whole dance in a separate music video, since you can’t always appreciate it in the main music video. It is a great way to make more content out of your existing one, and delight both your audience and social media algorithms.
Dance practice videos
When it comes making the most of content as one of the effective Kpop Marketing strategies, we also have dance practice videos. They are very similar to performance videos, but usually have a more simple set up as they are designed to show the group’s dance practice.
So, they are often filmed in the labels’ studios, and are meant to show a full practice and choreography of the group preparing for their music video, with the least editing possible.
Kpop Marketing strategies: Twice Dance practice for More & More
I love dance practice videos because they show the raw power of the dance and music song, without much editing. You can just enjoy the Kpop idols and their marvelous dancing skills.
Studio Choom 4k videos
Next, apart from dance practice videos and performance videos, we also have videos recorded in the famous Studio Choom room in 4k quality. Apart from the above-mentioned types of content, many labels opt to record there as well.
Everglow – La Di Da, recorded in Studio Choom.
I couldn’t much information on the Studio Choom (feel free to share some info with me in the comments!), but from what I learned, idols and labels use it as another channel to promote their content.
The videos recorded there are purely focused on the dance and choreography as well, and without much editing, but this time, it’s all about the high quality of the recording in 4k. These videos are pretty good!
5. Release of mini albums
Next on our list of effective Kpop Marketing strategies is the release of the so-called mini albums. Now, this is a concept that seemed foreign to me as I just entered Kpop culture, but I found very interesting nonetheless.
Mini albums are the most common type of albums released by Kpop groups, and it typically consists of 5 to 7 songs. The songs that come with it may vary in range, and the album itself typically comes with a photocard, poster and photobook.
Mini album example: Kill This Love by Blackpink. Effective Kpop Marketing strategies.
There are a few reasons why labels opt for a mini album instead of a full one:
- They are cheaper and faster to produce and get to the audience;
- They earn more money by releasing multiple mini albums instead of a full one;
- It works as a trial for non-established groups to test out the market.
I find this extremely interesting since it’s not something that we often see in Western groups. However, I think it’s a brilliant way to not only test if the group has chemistry and grabs the public attention, but to also have more promotion and earn money faster.
Which is not something bad, of course – every company needs to earn money in order to survive.
6. International audience reach
Probably one of the most effective Kpop marketing strategies that labels use is implementing tactics to reach a more international audience. They do it in a variety of ways, which we are going to cover next.
Again, please keep in mind that it’s all from a Marketing perspective, and I truly don’t mean anything negative with it. 🙂 It just how Marketing works!
Incorporating English words into the song
Many Kpop songs, if not all of them, incorporate some English words into the song. From what I investigated, this is done mainly to appeal to a wider fanbase, making it easier for English speakers to sing along with the song.
Kpop Marketing strategies: appealing to an international audience. Mamamoo – Egotistic.
Consequently, it also makes it easier for non-Korean speakers to search for a song. Otherwise, it would be hard for foriegners trying to type the song in Korean so they can find it on YouTube.
Releasing songs in another language
Another practice in Kpop marketing that aims to reach a wider fanbase is to release songs in another language.
One of the biggest examples that I have is Twice – the group is releasing a lot of songs in Japanese to reach their Japanese audience, in parallel to their content in Korean.
Twice – Kura Kura music video in Japanese.
Other idols and groups opt for singing some songs fully in English. The biggest example that I can think of is the solo debut of Rosé from Blackpink. She released two songs this year – On the Ground and Gone, both of which were fully in English.
Contracting foreign Kpop idols
Speaking of effective Kpop Marketing strategies, a more subtle one is contracting Kpop idols from other countries. This way, record labels and of course, their groups, are able to appeal to a more international audience.
This practice can be incredibly powerful, especially if the group becomes popular. The biggest example is Lisa from Blackpink, who was born in Thailand and is one of the most popular Kpop idols ever.
With her whopping 51.7 million followers on Instagram, she is not only extremely loved in South Korea, but is also a full-blown celebrity in Thailand. And she has a huge international audience of fans as well! (including myself, a Bulgarian living in Spain).
Lalisa Manoban: 51.7 million followers on Instagram. Effective Kpop Marketing strategies.
And of course, she is not the only example of non-Korean idols. Mina, Momo and Sana from Twice are Japanese, Tzuyu from Twice is from Taiwan, Jackson Wang from Got7 is from Hong Kong, and so on.
7. Participation in Entertainment Shows
Undoubtedly, one of the most powerful Kpop Marketing strategies that we can’t find in the Western world, or at least not at such a scale, is the participation in entertainment and reality shows.
Kpop idols are not only singers who record a music video and leave it there. A part of the group’s or idol’s promotion includes participation in different kind of entertainment shows, whether it’s their own show, or a third-party one.
These participations give idols a lot of extra visibility, and help to promote not only music videos but also the group as a whole.
Kpop Marketing strategies: Participation in entertainment shows. Lisa from Blackpink.
Just look at this video of Lisa from Blackpink and her crab dance promoted during a show – it has more than 80 million views and counting! This video alone is more than some views of regular music videos.
8. High quality production
While this isn’t exactly a Marketing tactic is such, for me personally it’s one of the most effective Kpop Marketing strategies because quality is always better than quantity.
From my observations (again, correct me if I am wrong), Kpop focuses on delivering well-curated, high quality music videos that are a candy to the eye. Instead of releasing many songs in a short period of time, they release less but with the best quality possible.
Blackpink music video: Kill this love.
From the set-ups, the outfits, the aesthetics, the dance and the music, everything is so well taken care of that you can’t help but stop for a moment and enjoy. Having a high quality product is truly a key to effective Marketing.
After all, if your product isn’t good in the first place, it doesn’t matter how good your Marketing is – you will not be able to sell it in the same way.
9. Brand deals
Next on our list of effective Kpop Marketing strategies that help to promote Kpop groups and give more visibility to idols are brand deals. Idols often endorse companies or become brand ambassadors which often opens up a whole new world of visibility.
For example, Hwasa has received numerous endorsements and participated in many collaborations over the past few years, including Dior, La Perla, Miu Miu, Balmain, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander Wang, Bottega, Givenchy, Veneta and Burberry.
She has also been (or is) an ambassador for Adidas, Sims 4, Northface and more. Brands just love her!
Hwasa x Fenty Beauty. Brand deal.
Brand deals are beneficial not only for the idols, but also for the label behind them because they give a tremendous amount of visibility.
10. Tik Tok virality
And last on our list of Kpop Marketing strategies is one that many record labels try to achieve, but not all are able to. However, if achieved, it gives an incredible amount of brand visibility for idols and companies.
Ever since Musica.ly became Tik Tok and absolutely blew up in popularity, people are constantly looking for catchy songs and dances to make a Tik Tok with.
For the choreographers in Kpop music videos, this means a huge opportunity to create a super catchy and unique dance move that Tik Tok users can incorporate into their own videos.
One dance movement that got really popular was the shoulder dance by Ryujin from Itzy, which was shown in their video Wannabe.
Kpop Marketing strategies: Achieving Tik Tok virality. ITZY Ryujin shoulder dance.
People got crazy about it, and it got millions of view on Tik Tok and YouTube!
And this was the list of Kpop Marketing strategies that I found out labels to be using for more promotion and visibility. Keep in mind that these are exclusively my own observations and opinions, they are not necessarily true, and excuse me in advance if I am wrong with something. Please don’t give me hate. 🙂
You can also check these articles for further readings when it comes to Marketing, promotion, and brand awareness:
- The Ultimate 30 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness in 2021
- 3 Ways Social Media Can Play a Big Part in Expanding Your Brand
- 11 Ultimate Brand Reputation Management Tips for Businesses