K-pop starts to fizzle out

The popularity of South Korean content is declining among young Thai consumers and marketers should adjust their strategies to this new reality, says a survey by Initiatives, the marketing arm of IPG Mediabrands.

Ratings for Korean TV series, K-pop concerts and internet searches for Korean artists have been steadily down for three years in Thailand.

The K-pop phenomenon began in Thailand in 2008 with Dae Jang-guem, the popular TV series about traditional Korean palace cooking, followed by Autumn in My Heart and Full House and others.

Popular South Korean singers are Rain, F4, Dong Bang shin Ki, 2pm, Girls' Generation and Nichkhun.

But the survey said ratings for international drama series, particularly Korean shows on free TV, have decreased across all viewer groups since 2009.

Initiative associate director Kanokkarn Prachongsaengsri said the popularity of all international content has declined by about 10% a year on average.

The biggest drop has been in South Korean TV series at 23%, followed by Japanese series (18%), Western series (15%) and Chinese series (7%), while ratings for Thai drama series have fallen off by only 2%.

About 22% of viewers aged 15-24, the main target group for Korean series, have become less interested in watching them, while the audience for Japanese series has shrunk by nearly 21%.

"The decline in Korean series' popularity may be the result of a shift in Content consumption from regular TV to other media such as online TV, smartphones, tablets or home entertainment," said Ms Kanokkarn.

As well, internet searches by keyword for South Korean TV series, music and stars have also dropped since 2009, with Korean music seeing the biggest search decline.

Raksit Rakkandee, the concert and special events director at BEC-Tero Entertainment Plc, said the concert-organising industry is competitive, and practically every day saw new organisers, particularly for the lucrative Korean concerts.

"Many new players jumped onto the Korean music bandwagon, but it's peaked already," he said.

Korean music concerts always feature meet-and-greet activities that allow fans to get up close and personal with their beloved artists, and these activities boost ticket prices, Mr Raksit added.

Ms Kanokkarn suggested brands and marketers reconsider the use of Korean stars as product presenters since the K-pop phenomenon is losing its magic in Thailand.

Related search: K-pop, Korea, Thai fans

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Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter