It is no exaggeration to say that almost every prominent K-pop star today is a model for a global luxury brand.
All five members of the popular girl group NewJeans took on such a role shortly after their debut last year. Hanni and Minji are the faces of Gucci and Chanel, respectively. Danielle has been endorsing Burberry, while Hyein promotes Louis Vuitton. Hyerin is Dior’s poster girl.
Seeking to rev up their presence in the Asian market, a growing number of luxury brands want to collaborate with K-pop stars who have been securing multiple successes in the region for many years. Unlike Europe’s luxury market which has been declining since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian market has been witnessing phenomenal growth, with revenues amounting to US$136 billion in 2023, according to German online platform Statista.
K-pop and luxury brands collaborating is likely a win-win for both.
K-pop singers can boost their value and reputation through such endorsements, as evidenced by BLACKPINK’s Jennie. The 27 year old, who has been Chanel’s poster girl since 2017, made international headlines this May for sporting a minidress that was a reinterpretation from the brand’s 1990 F/W collection at the Met Gala – one of New York’s largest fundraising events.
Luxury brands can use singers as ambassadors to help them jump on the K-pop bandwagon and promote themselves to global fans. In particular, they can attract more young shoppers and expand their customer base since K-pop fans consist mainly of people in their teens and 20s. That demographic group accounted for more than 89 percent of the K-pop fan base in 2021, according to local album sales tracker Hanteo.
K-pop’s massive power was most notably proven by Jimin of the Grammy-nominated boy band BTS, who was named Dior’s global ambassador in January. His two Instagram posts for Dior generated US$17 million in earned media value (EMV), comprising more than 50 percent of the brand’s total EMV during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, according to marketing platform Lefty.
However, some people are concerned that the alliance of K-pop and luxury brands may trigger overspending, especially among young people.
According to global investment bank Morgan Stanley, Koreans’ per capita spending on luxury goods is already the highest in the world, with each person spending about US$325 in 2022. This figure is far more than the amount spent by Americans (US$280) and Chinese (US$55).
Some fans even categorize K-pop stars into different “classes” depending on the brands they endorse. They equate singers with these brands, claiming that the stars promoting more expensive or well-known brands are superior to others.
“I don’t see why some fans split people into classes and put others down,” read one online comment.