JYP has been successful from Wonder Girls to TWICE as the “Girl Group Master”. But with ITZY and NMIXX, instead of popularity, JYP chooses more fandom-focused strategies.
JYP Entertainment (hereinafter referred to as JYP) is having its title of “Girl Group Master,” which has been maintained in the domestic music industry for a long time, shaken. This is due to the combination of the growth of the 4th-generation girl groups, which have already made significant achievements at the same time as their debut, and the change in direction of JYP’s girl groups. Will JYP be able to maintain its strong position in the K-pop girl group market?
JYP began its reputation as a famous girl group maker representing K-pop scenes when it created the Wonder Girls syndrome. The success of Wonder Girls, which led to the heyday of K-pop girl groups at the time after releasing mega hits “Tell Me,” “So Hot,” and “Nobody,” became the starting point for JYP girl group tradition. Since then, Miss A has been successful in making consecutive hits with “Bad Girl Good Girl” and “Breathe,” starting JYP’s girl group success formula in earnest.
After that, TWICE, which debuted in 2015, has achieved better-than-expected results in both the domestic and foreign markets, further solidifying the position of JYP’s girl groups. In particular, TWICE succeeded in winning both fandom power and public popularity through their steady activities, and is still active as a girl group representing the 3rd generation of K-pop idols.
JYP continued as a legend of girl group without failure through many generations, but the situation has changed a lot as K-pop entered the 4th-generation idol era. ITZY, which debuted in 2019, and NMIXX have taken quite a different path from the traditional steps shown by previous JYP girl groups.
In the case of ITZY, who debuted in 2019, their starting line was similar to their senior JYP girl groups. The debut song “DALLA DALLA,” aimed at both fandom and public popularity together, succeeded in receiving great love not only from K-pop fans but also from non-fan listeners. The reason why Wonder Girls, Miss A, and TWICE were able to become a sensational hit with a “mega-hit” was that they were supported by public popularity as much as solid fandom power. ITZY’s debut strategy also seemed to have followed in these footsteps.
Since then, however, ITZY has changed their course to songs focused on their fandom rather than public popularity such as “ICY,” “Not Shy,” and “MAFIA in the Morning.” Their concept naturally changed according to strategic changes, and some evaluated that their changes were somewhat difficult to digest. Of course, in the 4th-generation idol market, which requires choice and concentration, it was not a bad choice to modify the strategy to a fandom-type idol instead of focusing on public popularity. Apart from the public’s response, ITZY is still showing steady growth by breaking new album sales and chart records. In fact, ITZY’s new album “Checkmate,” which was recently released, surpassed 470,000 copies in the first week, and recorded their own highest sales of about 900,000 copies, entering 8th place on the “Billboard 200.”
Is it because ITZY’s change in strategy is working out pretty well? NMIXX, which debuted after ITZY, chose a strategy that focused on fandom instead of public popularity. Thanks to this, the rookie group succeeded in securing a certain scale of fandom amid fierce competition among 4th-generation girl groups. However, NMIXX’s music and concept is more difficult for the public to understand and the likes and dislikes are heavily divided.
Of course, it is natural for an agency to cleverly modify its strategy in line with the trend of the times and the trend of the K-pop scene. However, JYP should be remembered that the reason why it was able to continue its title as a “Girl Group Master” for well over a decade is a weapon that went beyond short-term strategies. It is the unrivaled popularity of each of its girl groups.
Even in the days when JYP’s girl groups were still taking over the public’s favor, there were quite a few girl groups that became popular by leading a solid fandom. However, throughout those times, JYP girl groups were successful enough to create their own success formula because they played an important role in the K-pop girl group scene as girl groups with not only strong fandoms but also public popularity. In this situation, if JYP boldly put down its weapon of “public popularity” and chose a strategy to focus on fandom power, they would essentially need to develop another weapon to supplement that. We will have to wait and see what new weapons JYP, which is shaking as it might lose its title in the girl group market, will bring for a rebound.