The meaning of aespa’s first-week sales of 1 million copies

It is unbelievable to see the album sales of a girl group reach 1 million copies. In particular, aespa recently sold 1.12 million copies of their comeback album “Girls” in the first week. 

aespa surpassed BLACKPINK’s highest album sales record of 680,000 copies with a gap of 400,000 copies. Among rookie girl groups, aespa also sold 800,000 copies more than IVE (330,000 copies). There are only 5 boy groups, including BTS, Seventeen, NCT DREAM, Enhypen, and TXT, who exceeded 1 million copies in the first week. Beyond the reality that there is a significant difference in the physical sales of boy groups and girl groups, some girl groups did achieve impressive results in album sales in the competition with boy groups. However, 1 million copies in the first week is a fantasy-like number and an unimaginable goal for many girl groups. Finally, this boundary has been broken.


Girl groups have gradually broken the initial sales records one after another. Two years ago, IZ*ONE sold 350,000 copies with their album “BLOOM*IZ”, marking a big leap forward by selling 200,000 copies more than the previous highest record. The girl group was given many modifiers and praised that they exceeded the limit of girl groups. The K-pop music market is expanding rapidly. Boy groups, which boast a larger scale of physical sales compared to girl groups, are on the rise. Three out of the 5 mentioned boy groups that sold more than 1 million copies in the first week made it in the first half of this year.


Although new eras of girl group’s physical sales have been opened sequentially, IZ*ONE and aespa have quite different sales structures. 200,000 copies out of IZ*ONE’s 350,000 copies of initial sales were sold domestically. aespa’s physical sales are estimated to be mostly occupied by overseas fanbases with more than 500,000 copies sold in China. In other words, IZ*ONE’s sales structure is centered on the domestic market, but in the case of aespa, the overseas market and the Chinese market are to be emphasized. Some people are trying to create misunderstanding since the Chinese market accounts for a large proportion of aespa’s first-week sales. However, the fact that aespa is increasing its influence in the fast-growing regions of the world can’t be the reason to disparage the result of aespa. aespa has an absolute market but the proportion of its entire physical sales is not particularly high compared to other groups. Most of the album copies sold in China are counted in initial sales, for example, aespa continued to sell more even after reaching 700,000 copies of “SAVAGE” album in the first week. 


The first “million-seller” title achieved by aespa suggests the infinite expansion of overseas market and the influence of Chinese fanbases on girl groups. IZ*ONE’s record of 200,000 copies sold in the domestic market is likely to be the limit. IZ*ONE’s sales centered on Korean fandom consists of male fans. Fandom with more male fans in Korea and overseas fandom have different concepts and visual preferences, so it is difficult for a group centered on the former to catch up with the latter. Boy groups normally have both a large domestic fandom and solid overseas fandom, but girl groups mostly depend on Chinese fanbases. BTS was the first idol group to sell 3.37 million copies with 770,000 copies sold in the China market. Chinese fanbases of TXT purchased 190,000 copies out of 1.25 million copies of the group’s album sold this year. On the other hand, 500,000 copies out of 680,000 copies that BLACKPINK sold were delivered to China and it was 310,000 copies out of 440,000 copies in the case of Red Velvet.

Now, if a girl group does not capture the Chinese market, it cannot achieve large sales beyond a certain level. It does not mean those groups depend solely on China. It means that if you do not “install” Chinese tools as an unconditional premise, your growth engine will be limited and it will be difficult to become a big name. This is also the background of the rise of individual power of certain members in the girl group industry. In the Chinese fandom, individual fandom tendencies prevail over group fandom tendencies and the criteria for favoring or not favoring certain types of idols are clear. Another characteristic is that Chinese fans are sensitive to the position and treatment of the idols they support within the group. In other words, only when the locally preferred member gets opportunities to grow, the fandom will pay more attention to other members, and the tool competition between members will create a synergy that increases the entire group’s tools.


In the K-pop industry, the Chinese market has become an alternative to supplement the small domestic music market. In particular, it provided the girl group industry with the potential to sell albums as much as boy groups and constantly guaranteed sales. The domestic market is a red ocean where the pie is depleted the more you share it. However, the Chinese market’s pie expands the more competitors there are.

Nevertheless, can the “Chinese dream” become a vision that replaces reality? For example, is aespa’s 1 million copies in the first week a bigger sales indicator than IZ*ONE’s 300,000 copies? Or is aespa as profitable as a boy group with similar album sales? We cannot see that. K-pop activities are blocked in the Chinese market, so there is no significant impact on groups’ sales except for album sales. Local tour performances are impossible, and it is also impossible to sell goods that belong to the manufacturing industry through concerts. In other words, it is a market where the equation that album record in the first week leads to the scale of fandom sales does not exist. The most profitable is still the Japanese market, where the tour market has been active for a long time. Besides, world tours including the U.S. market give a halo called “global groups”.

aespa FLAUNT

However, these markets are not isolated from each other, but are intertwined. When the number of album sales increases through Chinese tools, the popularity in other overseas markets increases, a fandom in China is established only when there is a reputation in other markets. In the global K-pop era, each overseas market has a differentiated personality and is giving special advantages. The Chinese market has been isolated but unbroken and attached as an important territory of the global market. We should face this point without exaggerating or underestimating the influence of Chinese tools.


Source: mediaus

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