Recently, experts have analyzed that the "Core fandoms" is a key indicator for measuring the sustainability of the spread of K-pop, as well as a critical factor in driving entertainment companies to success.
On January 5, IBK Investments & Securities released a report stating that "core fandoms" are the indicator to measure the sustainability of the spread of K-pop. "Core fandom" refers to the loyal fan base that is constantly purchasing albums or going to concerts. They are seen as the foundation for the growth of the industry and entertainment agencies as they are a stable source of revenue.
IBK Investments & Securities estimated the number of core fans for each of the Big 4 entertainment agencies - SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and HYBE. The report shows HYBE artists have the most core fans, with an overwhelming 1.6 million core fans. Second place was taken by SM Entertainment with 760,000 core fans, then JYP Entertainment with 640,000 core fans, and YG Entertainment with 420,000 core fans.
It can be seen that BTS is the number 1 contributor in bringing HYBE to first place with the most core fans, with the group having more than 700,000 core fans in their fandom alone.
IBK explained, "It is easy to reach distorted conclusions when considering only the current activity indicators (such as album sales, concert attendees, social media followers, YouTube views, etc.) for key questions in regards to K-pop sustainability. This is because there are fans who purchase hundreds of copies of the same album to collect the photo cards given with the albums or to win offline events such as fan sign events."
On the other hand, the core fandom is important because it directly contributes to the major revenue sources of the agency, such as purchasing albums, concert tickets, merchandise, and content. IBK elaborated, "Unlike the core fandom, the public has a high indirect contribution, such as consuming the artists' music through streaming services and increasing artists' IP awareness."
In addition, HYBE not only has the largest number of core fans but also ranks first place among the Big 4 entertainment companies in terms of the amount of money each fan spends on the artists.
Global exports of K-pop albums have grown steadily for seven years, from 2015 to 2021. In particular, the number of core fandoms that purchased albums was the highest in Japan, China, and the United States.
As of August of last year, Japan (38.4%), China (21.5%), and the United States (16.2%) accounted for more than 76% of global sales. Regarding this, IBK explained, "(These three countries) are expected to make more contributions in the future due to their high consumption power."
According to the Korea Customs Service, the number of countries that imported K-pop goods was only 51 in 2015, but by the end of 2021, it had tripled to 148 countries.