NEWJEANS: Entertainment to Commerce

creating a turning point for K-pop


I recently visited the New Jeans pop-up store at The Hyundai Department Store in Yeouido. I arrived around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, waited for 3 hours until 9:30 a.m., registered for admission, and spent time at McDonald's until I entered at 10:30. About 300 people had gathered before entering, and I had a brief interview with some people on the spot.

In general, there were many women in their late teens and early 20s. I asked a few questions. How old are you? Have you ever been to a pop-up store like this before? Do you enjoy listening to idol music? Where do you live?

Most of them are 19-22 years old, and they've never been to a place like this before, and they don't usually listen to idol music.

That's when the experience of 2015 suddenly came to mind. At that time, I was in charge of running Dingo Magazine and Dingo Movie Facebook pages at a startup called MakeUs, and at that time, Korean Facebook was dominated by teenagers. So, when I met a senior elementary school student or a middle school student at a convenience store or a bus stop, I used to have a casual interview.

What kind of app do you have on your phone? Who is your favorite celebrity? Do you like idol music? I asked about the background, but unexpectedly, the girls didn't listen to idol music much. Instead, they like Korean 'Indie' music. On the other hand, male students are celebrities? Idol? Forget it. They only like "Game". They're probably 19 or 22 years old now, and I might have met some of them at the pop-up store.



Goods purchased at the pop-up store. It's a retro concept, but it can be seen as a fun design without being outdated, and I think the advantage is that the T-shirt can be worn easily as a daily outfit. (Of course, it's not what I wear...)

There are two main things that I felt important in the pop-up store. One is that people who have not listened to K-pop so far are coming into the fandom of New Jeans. Young people (?!) who didn't get close to idol music because music was childish or difficult to understand are responding to Newsjin. What's the reason? This is the second point, which is the result of sophisticated and differentiated branding.  

I spent about two hours talking to my newsletter ( subscribers about this. I summarized the impressive contents among them.   

※ an unconventional debut

- Unlike other K-pop groups, they debuted. Usually, a teaser video or music video introducing the members one by one is published first, and New Jeans released all the songs at once. 

- The appearance is so, so pretty. It's naturally pretty.  

- New Jeans' fandom online community service "Phoning" seems to contribute to securing early fans. The user experience is different from "Weverse," Hive's fandom service. 

- For your information, Hive has a policy that all artists on sub-labels must be active in "Weverse". However, New Jeans exceptionally creates and operates its own community service, "Phoning," independently.

- It uses TikTok as the main platform and gets the impression that it is connected to 'Phoning' and YouTube.

- I don't think "Phoning" as an online service is a success story. However, it is very important that offline pop-up stores have been very successful. I think that's the characteristic of New Jeans. 

※ Y2K Trend

- New Jeans seems to recreate the sentiment of the 2000s blogging service 'Tumbler'. The items that were popular at that time are understood as a good sense for the younger generation now.

- Teenagers these days tend to dig items between the 90s and 2010s.

- Hipster children and hipster adults also seem to be connected to New Jeans.

※ K-pop Universe? Stop!

- People tend to be tired of Idol Universe. In addition, the entry barrier is too high to like the new team because of the idol's Universe. But it's very good that New Jeans doesn't have such a complicated setting or story. 

- Music and members' charms are highlighted first than idol Universe or story.

- In pop culture, natural charm is the most important thing, not concept or universe. 

- The most popular music I've heard recently is "Attention," which is almost the only K-pop song I've heard. I usually enjoy listening to pop in English. I think the important point is that New Jeans' music sounds very good even without watching the music video or pictures.

※ Not retro, but branding

- The media calls it "retro sentiment," but rather in the context of the visual emphasized by local brands, which are popular among the younger generation in Korea these days. There are many times when I feel that the Instagram style of Gentle Monster, Nu_dake, and New Jeans are similar. 

- New Jeans thinks the entertainment business is a turning point in expanding into e-commerce.  

- I think 'healing' has become an important factor in the current entertainment business. Companies should provide several services to help fans become more immersed in what they like. I think New Jeans is an example of a successful interaction of universally attractive content, fandom communities, and online services.

※ Girl group, female fandom, female CEO: Women's Rules

- Regardless of the artist's gender, the main customer of the K-pop idol market for a long time has been a "female fandom," but it has not received much attention. In particular, the female fandom of girl groups is underestimated. However, New Jeans (and CEO Min Hee-jin) are confident that they can certainly open the wallets of these female customers. And it actually works well.

- New Jeans is a girl group that young Korean women will like, and at the same time, it is a rare K-pop group in a position that can be easily liked. I think this is the reason for securing popularity and fandom at the same time.  

- Other girl groups that will debut in the future are likely to be deeply troubled to be different or similar to New Jeans in some way. It's hard to say right now, but New Jeans certainly seem to be creating a turning point for K-pop.

Gift a cup of coffee!
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