You have probably heard and seen their latest song ‘Boy With Luv’ featuring Halsey on YouTube, which had 74 million views in a day, crowning it the most viewed online music video in 24 hours. That’s right, today, we are talking about one of Korea’s top boybands, BTS (방탄소년단) or BangTan Boys and just how much influence they have over the world.
~WHO IS BTS?~
BTS is just one of the many Korean idol groups that gained prominence in the Korean Entertainment Industry dubbed the ‘Korean Wave’. The group debuted under the label Big Hit Entertainment with 7 members: Rap Monster, Jimin, V, Suga, J-Hope, Jungkook and Jin back in 2013. While they came from humble beginnings (as opposed to the big 3 entertainment companies YG, SM or JYP), they rose to stardom after portraying themselves as a socially conscious group, releasing songs that depicted social issues, mental health, youth, self-love and loss amongst many other sensitive topics. This was in contrast to the generic love songs that Korean idol groups sang about. Soon in 2016, their album, ‘Wings’, broke the 1 million sales record and thrust the idol group into the American market. Since then, BTS’ fame has shown no signs of stopping.
2017 was the year of BTS. Their audience increased exponentially after exposure in the American market:
The group’s IG account witnessed an average growth of 10.75% per month in 2017. A double-digit growth rate for an established band like BTS (4 years running) is very high. The following year, BTS made their debut at the American red carpet event, the American Billboard Music Awards, performing live and taking the stage by storm.
This performance took place in May 2018 and caused an amazing and sudden increase of 1 million followers worldwide. In addition to their mind-blowing performance, BTS also received their 2nd top social artist award that night and soon after, almost every big American daytime (and even night time) television show was booking BTS for an interview including @TheEllenShow:
As of May 2019, BTS has 18.4 million followers, making them mega-celebrity influencers. It is also one of the K-Pop groups with the highest engagement rates, of 9.52%. In comparison, the extremely popular girl group TWICE has 7.73%, while the international sensation, BLACKPINK, has 5.71%.
We saw BTS rising to fame, but how far-reaching is it? An analysis by Popular Chips shows the demographics of the followers of BTS’ official account @bts.bighitofficial:
Despite originating from South Korea, BTS’ top followers come from Indonesia, America, Brazil and Thailand. We also see other non-Asian continents in the top 10 including Europe(Russia) and the Americas (North America and Brazil in South America). Moreover, a huge 37.69% of their followers come from other places in the world including (but not limited to): Vietnam (2.28%), Kazakhstan (1.79%), Singapore (1.43%), United Kingdom (1.27%), Australia (0.83%), China (0.69%) and Ecuador (0.63%).
I compared BTS to 2 similar top Korean idol groups to see how different they are in terms of demographic reach:
While I avoid disclosing the name of both groups for discreet purposes, popular girl group X’s top 3 demographics are Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia. Boy band Y’s top 3 demographics, on the other hand, come from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
While Indonesia is the common top demographic for all 3 bands, group X and Y’s top 3 demographics are all within the Asian continent. BTS on the other hand, has the upper hand, having an international fan base.
With all that popularity and clout, brands now look to BTS as global ambassadors. Here are the results of some of their endorsements:
1. PUMA (Korea)
Puma was one of the brands that worked with BTS in 2018. Taken from Popular Chip’s analysis, @Puma_Kr’s post featuring BTS has 48,234 likes, which is the top liked and commented post for the month of May 2018 and the top post of 2018, dethroning even long-time ambassadors of Puma. This shows how much support BTS had from their strong fanbase.
2. COCA-COLA (Korea)
There are many food and beverage brands that approach BTS, one of them being Coca-Cola. Being fans of the drink, BTS agreed to do an endorsement and ended up taking the top spot for the most likes for 3 months in a row on @coke.style ( Coca-Cola Korea) from May to July of 2018.
3. Hyundai (Global)
BTS is currently the global ambassadors of Hyundai Palisade:
The advertisement featuring the boy band was released in America back in November of 2018 during the Los Angeles Auto Show press conference when Hyundai first released their flagship SUV.
While Hyundai expected about 25,000 in sales domestically, BTS’ stellar endorsement has resulted in Hyundai receiving more than 59,000 orders by February 2019 and they are now struggling to meet the demands of their customers.
From these examples, it is very clear that BTS holds vast amounts of soft power over the world, being able to garner support and likes from audiences of varying industries (fashion, food and beverage, automobile etc.). Their social media prowess is undeniable and brands should engage with these opinion leaders to propel their brand forward in terms of awareness and even making the target market sway towards their brand.
Want to know more about the Korean wave? Why not check out another hot Korean opinion leader, BLACKPINK, right here!