The K-Pop industry is full of various merchandise and goodies available for fans to buy. Whether it’s the albums, often released with different versions, or the inclusions within each album, there’s so much merchandise produced that fans struggle to keep up with it all. Because it doesn’t stop at the albums. Although they are the main asset purchased by K-Pop fans, there are many other derivative products being sold, such as plush, official tour merchandise, whether it be shirts, bags or accessories for events and stationery. It doesn’t matter what kind of merchandise it is, fans like and want them all.
The production of so many goods is driving fans to buy more, to collect to have as much as possible. However, collecting all these products comes at a very high cost, not only financially, but also spatially and sometimes emotionally. As this merchandise means a lot to some fans, it can sometimes be painful not to be able to buy a certain product, or not to get it when expected, this is especially the case with the photocards included in the albums. So why is collection culture so important to K-Pop fans? And how is this collection culture encouraged by the industry itself?
1. A feeling of satisfaction
The first and foremost reason why K-Pop fans are so interested in collecting K-Pop merchandise is that it gives them a sense of satisfaction and happiness. Of course, who doesn’t like to own things related to their hobbies and passions? It would be the same for other fields like sports or cars, people generally like to collect products related to what they like. Even if it seems superficial to those who don’t usually collect or see an emotional value in objects, some goods are the most precious items for some fans.
2. The Sense of Ownership
Another reason fans collect is the sense of ownership. Not the ownership of the idols themselves, of course, but the ownership of merchandise related to those idols. It’s a different feeling to see pictures of something and actually own it. Some fans will be happy simply by looking at the photos in some albums, photobooks or even photocards, but others will need to buy the album, feeling that it is their own good to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s always nice to know that something is ours, not anyone else’s. Especially if it’s something that has a high value from our own perspective.
3. Own unique items
Not all items sold in the K-Pop world are considered high value, especially financially speaking, but some items are unique and worth collecting. First, there is limited edition merchandise. It could be tour merchandise, pop-up store merchandise, or limited edition albums. This is true for all situations, when an item is considered a limited edition, it automatically makes it special and of great value, because it means that only a few people will be able to acquire it. Some other merchandise is not specifically labeled limited edition, but is some kind of exclusive item, the pre-order benefits. they are usually photocards, which are different from those released in regular albums. They can be obtained by pre-ordering some merchandise like albums or lightstick for example. Or they can be collected by participating in events like fansigns and sweepstakes. For these events, a specific and exclusive series of photocards will be released, available only during the event period. After that, they will never be produced again. This adds another reason for fans to go and collect all these products.
4. Support and show love to artists
Last but not least, fans like to collect items from their favorite group or artist because it’s a way to support their artist, rather than rooting for them with their voice. By purchasing albums, fans help their artists climb the music charts and gain awards and recognition from Internet users. Of course, individual idols won’t know who bought which album, and how many of them, but it’s a group movement, global support of all the fans’ joint efforts and love for the artist.
But of course, if fans are ready to buy and collect merchandise to some extent, it’s because they are encouraged to do so by the K-Pop industry in many ways.
1. The Release of Infinite Goods
If fans can buy so many albums and photocards, it’s because an enormous amount of each is being produced. Of course, albums are the most produced and sold items as they are the K-Pop industry’s main commodity. K-Pop is more than anything a music genre, so it makes sense that the commodity everyone wants to acquire is albums. However, fans are most interested in album inclusions, usually a photo card or more, some sticker or postcard, and any bonus inclusions there may be. This is the core of K-Pop merchandise. And even though all released products don’t last forever, depending on the type, agencies always introduce new merchandise to ensure fans keep going.
2. Limited edition merchandise
Some fans are willing to spend big on limited merchandise, and agencies know that too. Spending a lot does not mean that the items are expensive, but some fans like to have the entire collection of limited edition merchandise, so when obtaining merchandise is random, some of them are ready to buy many times the same merchandise to get a complete set. of limited edition merchandise. This is especially true when it comes to photocards. That’s why agencies are always creating so many sweepstakes and fansign events when a group is promoting. This also applies to tourism products and especially member design products. They are often produced in small quantities, making them difficult to obtain even for people who go to the show and pass by the merchandise booth. And since they are member-designed objects, they are often considered even more valuable by fans.
3. The Trends
As agencies are companies, they always look closely at what’s in fashion and make a point of making use of it. For example, in those days, metaverse and other virtual platforms are very fashionable, so many agencies decided to come up with new designs for photocards, which work like AR cards. Instead of having a proper photocard with an idol’s photo as there was until now, some albums now contain AR cards that must be scanned through an app designed to see a 3D version of a member, or sometimes even a video. . Some fans complained about this new format, finding it a waste considering there’s still material support for the AR card, but other fans are really pleased with this new kind of good following the trend. Some agencies are even starting to release old albums again, in a new format, including AR cards and other virtual goods. That way they are engaging fans to collect more, even if it’s items they already own, they add changes so fans can buy it again and have a different experience each time. This strategy also works with K-Pop lightsticks and their different versions. The old versions are working pretty well most of the time, the only reason new versions of a lightstick are released is that it feels like the group is changing their image, refreshing it and giving it a fresh feel.
In fact, there are many reasons why K-Pop fans are so drawn to collecting merchandise all the time, and once you know all the reasons, you should understand this side of the K-Pop world even better!