From printed photos to a brand new iPad-the profit of the K-pop photocard business reportedly can bring home a brand new iPad, a camera, and even a MacBook Pro!
The K-Invasion brings a significant impact to contemporary culture and the entertainment industries. It also brings a massive influence to the global society. Indeed, Korean entertainment like drama, music, or variety shows has made their way to everyone's hearts. Music groups like BTS, Blackpink, NCT, Twice, have made their presence and power known especially to today's generation. Aside from music, a recent trend boomed in the late 2020s brings K-pop lovers collecting photocards of their favorite group members. This phenomenon then becomes a business that blooms in 2021.
Every group's physical album usually comes with a photocard of the members. A photocard usually came in a 5.5 x 8.5 cm photo and printed on a carton paper; some are as thick as a debit card, with designs ranging from a hologram to a lenticular. Photocards can come in a set of full members, but they can come out randomly too; for example, one random out of seven, or two randoms out of twelve. The number may vary, depending on the total of members and the inclusion of the albums. Apart from the albums, photocards also come from merchandise like tour merch, lightstick, online concert merch, DVD merch, and season greetings. The inclusions from this merchandise usually include photocards that are more expensive than albums photocards.
In the K-pop photocard business, people purchase photocards of their favorite members-it could be one, two, or even all of them! Aside from local marketplaces, collectors obtain photocards by joining a group order, which works as a pre-order-where the admin would surf international websites such as Mercari Japan, Rakuten, Weibo, Xianyu, and more. They also would dive into Twitter's search engine and make transactions with sellers who mostly come from Korea, Thailand, the USA, and the Philippines.
I know what goes on your mind, "A piece of a printed photo? How expensive could it be? Not more than a one-person pass for all-you-can-eat restaurants, right? How can this become a business opportunity exactly?" To break it to you, the price of one photocard ranges from Rp30.000,- up to Rp60.000.000,-. Yes, it can go that insane. Besides the initial cost of the merch, the photocard price depends on other factors too, such as the specific member, the rarity, and the demand. The price for each member may differ from the others. That concludes that the most popular members usually are sold at a higher price than the least famous members.
Rarity and high demand also play huge factors in determining the price of the photocard. For instance, most loved BTS members like Jungkook and Taehyung photocards from the album Love Yourself: Tear, O version are sold higher than the rest of the members simply because they look super good while lying on their tummies. Merch released from older years also tends to be more expensive because everyone wants to get their hands on it when on the other hand, it stopped producing. Another mind-blowing price is also seen on limited edition photocards, like NCT 2018 Weekly Idol signed photocards that are only being printed one piece for each member, making buyers start bidding at Rp15.000.000,- each, with one famous member, Jaehyun, photocard reportedly being sold around Rp80.000.000,-.
The pandemic makes people start picking up new hobbies, and more are joining the euphoria of collecting K-pop photocards, which leads to the sudden influx in collectors. Eventually, there's a significant increase in demands, which affects the market prices, causing the business to skyrocket in early 2021. More business opportunities are unlocked, people start selling complementary items for collectors like a photocard standee, photocard holder, down to photocard binders, and collect books.
The joy of collecting photocards may bring confusion to most people, but it's pretty much the same as collecting other items like heroic figurines, vintage postcards or anything! It's just like another hobby that's currently becoming the hottest trend in town. So, if you're planning on opening a new business, this one may prospect as K-wave is not showing signs of slowing down.