From stage to fashion week, how pop sensations BLACKPINK and NewJeans are becoming the faces of global brands.
Sectors & Markets
21 September, 2023
Table of contents
K-pop, the genre originating from South Korea, has taken the world by storm, transcending borders and languages to capture the hearts of music enthusiasts across the globe.
European luxury brands have increasingly turned to K-pop icons, particularly those hailing from South Korea, to serve as their brand ambassadors. This trend is fueled by the rise of influencer culture in South Korea, where K-pop idols are more than just musical talents—they are influential figures with vast followings. With Gen Z and millennials as their primary audience, K-pop idols have a significant impact on the shopping habits of young consumers worldwide. Their dynamic fashion choices and endorsements inspire a generation to embrace luxury brands, bridging the gap between music and fashion.
K-pop stars further extend their influence through active engagement on social media platforms. Their captivating presence on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube amplifies their reach and impact, turning them into cultural icons not just within South Korea but also on an international scale.
Moreover on all channels, it is seen that brand posts about these K-popstars received much higher adulation as compared to other posts by brands, or in many instances also much higher than posts featuring other global brand ambassadors. Case in point being the post by Tiffany & Co. featuring Rosé from BLACKPINK on X (formerly Twitter) achieved more than 20 times the average engagement on the brand’s timeline. Similarly, for Dior, the post about South Korean artists (55K likes), and another post with BLACKPINK’s Jisoo in particular (25K likes) achieved much more attention than other posts by the brand in the same period (300 likes on average). A similar trend can be seen on Instagram, where posts about Jisoo and other South Korean stars registered 8-10x higher results as compared to other posts by Dior.
In 2022, South Korea demonstrated its robust purchasing power with a per capita income of $45.467,38 U.S. dollars, significantly surpassing the world average of $22.409,60 U.S. dollars across 177 countries. This highlights South Korea's economic prowess and its citizens' relatively higher standard of living. Moreover, South Korea's economy exhibited impressive resilience, as its GDP grew by 2,6% during the same year, outpacing the growth rates of both the United States (2%) and Japan (1%), as reported by the World Bank.
This sustained economic growth underlines South Korea's position as a dynamic and prosperous nation on the global stage. South Korean citizens exhibit strong buying power and unwavering loyalty to their beloved idols. This makes South Korea a vital market for European brands, akin to the brand loyalty seen in Japan. The collaboration between European luxury brands and K-pop stars continues to thrive, harnessing the cultural influence and consumer power of these international icons.
BLACKPINK, consisting of Lisa, Jennie, Rosé, and Jisoo, was formed in South Korea in 2016. With a vibrant online presence and a global fanbase called
Blinks, the group has set records for their traction on social media and YouTube music video views. Their Instagram followers alone are in the tens of millions, underscoring their massive reach.
In 2020, BLACKPINK embarked on a collaboration with Adidas, marking the beginning of their journey into the world of fashion. They became the faces of Puma's Suede Bow sneakers and made their first appearance in a Japanese TV commercial in 2018. In 2023, they once again starred in Adidas‘ “Home of the Classics” campaign.
The members of BLACKPINK are not only musical sensations but also Instagram stars in their own right, boasting a combined following that reaches staggering heights. With Lisa leading the pack at an astonishing 97,6 million followers, followed closely by Jennie with 81,4 million, Jisoo with 75,5 million, Rosé with 73,9 million, and the group's official account at 57,4 million, their collective presence on Instagram reflects the immense global fanbase that has been captivated by their talent, style, and charisma. These numbers not only underscore their individual appeal but also the undeniable impact of BLACKPINK as a whole in the world of entertainment and social media.
On Youtube, by August 2023, the renowned K-pop girl group had amassed approximately 636 million views from their devoted fanbase in Indonesia, closely followed by 551 million views from India and 493 million views from Thailand. These staggering numbers illustrate BLACKPINK's unwavering popularity, firmly establishing them as one of the most beloved K-pop acts, not only within their home country but also on the global stage. While on TikTok, as of September 2023, popular K-pop group BTS was the K-pop artist with the most followers on TikTok at over 62,3 million followers. This was followed by BLACKPINK coming in second at around 46,2 million followers. The band members are candid on TikTok, giving followers a glimpse into their personalities. They actively participate in lip-sync videos to dance challenges and tutorials on TikTok, a platform popular for its lighthearted yet genuine content. The band’s official Tiktok channel receives a minimum of 2 to 6 million views on every video, with challenges and special launches being viewed 20 to 80 million times.
Lisa, the most popular member of BLACKPINK, has been actively immersed in the world of luxury. Her partnership with Bulgari led to the launch of the 'Bulgari Bulgari x Lisa Limited Edition' watch in 18K rose gold, which became a sensation among fashion enthusiasts. She also donned Celine outfits and accessories and introduced her makeup collection with MAC, 'MAC x L,' which saw immense success.
Jennie, another BLACKPINK member, made her mark in the luxury fashion world with Chanel. In 2018, Chanel Korea appointed her as their brand ambassador, and she quickly began representing the brand on a global scale. She was also the face of Chanel's Coco Neige 2021-22 campaign and the Coco Crush jewellery line. Jennie's association with Calvin Klein further solidified her status as a fashion icon, with her appearances in multiple campaigns and the creation of an exclusive limited-edition capsule collection in collaboration with the brand.
Jisoo, a member of BLACKPINK, entered the luxury world in 2018 when she became a model for the South Korean cosmetic brand, Kiss Me. However, her star truly ascended when she was named the local brand ambassador for the French luxury fashion house Dior in 2019. Her association with Dior continued to grow, and in 2021, she was recognized as a global ambassador for the brand. Additionally, in 2022, Jisoo joined the elite Panthère community at Cartier as their brand ambassador.
Rosé, the third BLACKPINK member, scored her first major deal as the global ambassador of Saint Laurent in 2020. Her partnership extended to YSL Beauty, making her the muse of their beauty line. Furthermore, she collaborated with the luxury jewelry house Tiffany & Co. in 2021, further cementing her status as a fashion and beauty icon.
NewJeans, a relative newcomer to the K-pop scene, has already achieved remarkable success. Breaking the Guinness World Record as the fastest K-pop act to reach 1 billion Spotify streams in just 219 days, they are a force to be reckoned with. Their popularity has surged on TikTok, amassing over 13,4 billion views under the #NewJeans hashtag.
The members of NewJeans have also caught the attention of European luxury brands, further highlighting K-pop's global influence. Minji, the oldest member, was appointed as the global ambassador of Chanel in 2023, a testament to her growing status as a fashion icon. Hanni, a brand ambassador for Gucci since October 2022, also serves as the global makeup ambassador for Armani Beauty. Danielle, another NewJeans member, has embraced the luxury world with enthusiasm. She holds the title of global ambassador for Burberry since January 2023 and is also a brand ambassador for YSL Beauty since March 2023. Haerin has become Dior's house ambassador for jewellery, fashion, and beauty since April 2023, showcasing her versatility and appeal in the fashion world. Hyein, the final member of NewJeans, has joined the ranks of luxury brand ambassadors as she represents Louis Vuitton since December 2022, solidifying her status as a fashion influencer.
NewJeans’ #omgchallenge received over 3,6 billion views on TikTok, similar to BLACKPINK's Jisoo’s #FLOWERchallenge which had over 3,3 billion views.
Other K-pop bands and emerging talents are also representing European luxury brands globally. For instance, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon is the brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton, ENHYPEN members represent Prada, and (G)I-DLE’s Minnie serves as the house ambassador for Miu Miu.
Google search trends reveal intriguing insights into the global popularity of various pop stars. Remarkably, searches for news about BLACKPINK consistently surpass those for celebrated artists like Beyoncé Knowles and Camila Cabello. The spike in Taylor Swift’s popularity in 2023 can be attributed to her global music tour. Nonetheless, contrary to popular opinion, interest in K-Pop bands like BLACKPINK have on occasion also surpassed long-standing fandom of artists like Swift. For instance during the months of January and March 2023, google received the highest search for BLACKPINK, higher than many other music sensations.
BLACKPINK and NewJeans have garnered dedicated fan bases spanning the globe, with enthusiasts hailing from diverse nations. Countries such as Russia, India, Turkey, Iran, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Chile, and Peru are avidly tracking these K-pop girl bands' every move. BLACKPINK enjoys significant popularity in Asia and the Middle East, particularly in nations like Russia, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Iran, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Egypt. Meanwhile, NewJeans has been rapidly gaining ground in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as captivating South American audiences in Chile and Peru. While English-speaking countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia continue to favor stars like Taylor Swift, the influence of K-pop artists is steadily on the rise in these regions as well.
K-pop, with its global reach and fervent fanbase, has opened new avenues for collaboration between music and fashion industries. Female stars from groups like BLACKPINK and NewJeans have become the darlings of European luxury brands, forging partnerships that not only redefine the fashion landscape but also reflect the ever-expanding cultural impact of K-pop on a global scale. As these talented artists continue to captivate audiences with their music and style, their journey from the K-pop stage to the global fashion runway is sure to be a riveting one to watch.
Cover Image: Reuters