Which K-Pop Girl Group Wears the Most Expensive Outfit?

How much do K-Pop girl groups' outfits cost? We looked at some of Korea's high-profile girl groups to find out the cost of sponsored outfits and its commercial ramifications.

While you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, outfits matter a lot when it comes to gauging a K-Pop group's commercial success, as they can serve as a good indicator of the group's popularity. We analysed three of the top girl groups from Korea's entertainment giants (SM, JYP, and YG) and estimated the cost of these groups' outfits as featured in their latest music video releases.

Blackpink's Outfits Are By Far the Most Expensive

Blackpink of YG Entertainment features the most outlandish set of sponsored outfits, with their Top 5 clothing items totaling upwards of S$80,000. That means each item costs well over S$15,000 on average, equivalent to the Top 5 items combined for either TWICE or Red Velvet. The single most expensive piece of clothing item is the white Chanel top worn by Blackpink's Jennie, which costs a shocking S$25,000. Also, even for the relatively low-budget groups, it is interesting to note that tens of thousands of dollars in advertising budget is spent on outfits alone.

Top 5 Most Expensive Clothing Items by Girl Group

Other Sponsored Gear

Clothing is not the only target for sponsorship money. If you look closely at Blackpink's latest music video Kill This Love, you may notice product placements (PPLs) ranging from Samsung smartphones to smartwatches and accessory gadgets. To be fair, ever since 2NE1's Lollipop in 2009, marketing electronic devices through music videos has become part of the popular and commercial culture of Korea. However, what's different this time is the enormous amount of money spent by other sponsors (outfits etc.) on top of the nearly S$2,000 in placements for Samsung devices, which makes Blackpink one of the most commercial-heavy K-Pop girl groups in history.

Other sponsored gears, electronic devices

Why Does Blackpink Get So Many Sponsorships?

Economic incentives can help to explain why Blackpink is getting more commercial spotlight than others. The 4-person group's tours and videos are reaching a truly global scale, and with that, it is only natural that advertisers are willing to spend more money to take advantage of Blackpink's ever-widening audience.

As of May 2019, Blackpink's Instagram has over 18.4 million followers, with Red Velvet and TWICE coming in at 7.6 million and 8.8 million, respectively. Just by this measure, Blackpink boasts a fan base that is more than twice as large compared to its SM- and JYP-backed rivals. A big part of this can be explained by the demographics of Blackpink's audience, which includes a huge number of western-based fans, which is unusual for most K-Pop girl groups. In fact, Blackpink has made the most number of world tours among the three in recent years, and is the only girl group to travel to both North America and Europe for a tour.

Blackpink social media presence and world tours

It is clear from the chart above that Blackpink's fan base is much more robust and internationally diversified, setting up a great springboard for advertising projects. As a sponsor investing time and energy into getting a partnership, you would be willing to deploy more advertisement spending on a girl group that offers greater exposure and a wider global audience.

Is It Time to Buy YG Stocks?

Many of you might be wondering if Blackpink's success will translate to the stock performance of YG Entertainment, the company that backs the famous K-Pop group. Unfortunately, YG Entertainment is not looking so rosy from an investing perspective. First, YG's 2018 annual report shows the lowest operating margin among the Big 3, and the company is deriving less organic sales from concerts and albums than two other competitors, suggesting low competitiveness in terms of content. As K-content exports become saturated in foreign markets and streaming giants like Netflix start expanding into Korea, YG entertainment will face steeper competition. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether or not Blackpink's success can bring home as much success as their sponsorship leads.

List of K-Pop girl groups and their music videos sampled for research
Kyuhoon Kim

Kyuhoon is a Research Analyst at ValueChampion, focusing on Korean insurance. He previously studied Economics and Computer Science at Vanderbilt University.