SEOUL (Reuters) – In the early hours of a frozen Christmas Eve, Lee Myeong-Sook, 62, queues in the luxurious Gangnam area of Seoul to get a chance to buy a t-shirt, or maybe even a toothbrush , marked with the K-Pop boyband BTS logo.
Fans of the K-pop idol band BTS enjoy a pop-up store that sells BTS products in Seoul, South Korea, on December 24, 2019. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji
The rest of the district is almost deserted, but a large line of fans of all ages and nationalities is accumulating around it outside the "House of BTS" pop-up store, dedicated to the seven pieces behind "Boy With Luv." and other successes
K-Pop's management agencies, including BTS's Big Hit Entertainment, have been expanding their retail operations to capitalize on a marketing boom: this is the band's first store in Seoul with others appearing in places as far away as Mexico.
"I want to buy some cushions, dolls, badges, things like that today and notebooks to give to my friends," said Lee, who was waiting in line with his 35-year-old daughter.
The brand jackets are sold for 299,000 won ($ 257) along with socks, sleeping masks and other merchandise linked to the band that led a wave of Korean pop music and became the first group since the Beatles to have three number albums one in the United States in less than a year
Analysts say the demand for the equipment is growing as the popularity of K-Pop bands extends beyond the domestic market in other parts of Asia and in the West.
Japanese fans outside the store told Reuters they had flown because the Gangnam store "had more things" than the three BTS stores in their own country. Around 1,500 fans or more visited the store during a single day last week.
"I hope to buy what I can," said Rebecca Mold, 25, originally from the American city of Boston, a BTS fan for about two years on her first visit to the store. "I already have a lot, so whatever there is …"
Big Hit, a non-publicly traded company with investments from STIC Investments in South Korea and Legend Capital of China, has launched an application called Weply to sell merchandising to fans around the world.
It has also partnered with Line Friends, a subsidiary of South Korea's leading internet firm, Naver, to sell products linked to the animated characters "BT21" designed by BTS members.
"The constant derivation of new products seems to contribute a lot (to sales)," said Han Sang-woung, an analyst at Eugene Investment Co Ltd, who estimated the profit margins of the agencies at around 20%.
($ 1 = 1,163.3600 won)
Reports by Joyce Lee and Hyunjoo Jin; Edition by Andrew Heavens
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