The Korea Herald


Fandom merchandise may have environmental repercussions: survey

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : March 8, 2023 - 18:13

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Example of album photo cards (KCA) Example of album photo cards (KCA)

Collecting fandom merchandise, a trend which began with giveaways to entice fans to buy albums, and was found to be one of the biggest reasons behind album purchases, has led to environmental concerns surrounding the disposal of plastic discs.

The Korean Consumer Agency on Tuesday announced that 52.7 percent of K-pop fans answered that they had bought albums to “get fandom merchandise” in a survey of 500 citizens who purchased fandom-related goods over the latest two years.

Fandom merchandise includes products made for fan activities such as posters, light sticks and photo cards with different pictures of idol members -- one of the most sought-after items.

Meanwhile, only 5.7 percent of respondents said that music is the main reason for buying albums in the survey. This shows a stark contrast to the 83.8 percent of people listening to music through online streaming services, indicating that listening to music is no longer a major reason for buying physical albums.

The KCA also carried out another survey of 20 albums released in the last two years with the best sales record in line with the survey results of consumers.

While the albums were found to contain 7.8 pieces of merchandise on average, with 2.9 of them being chosen randomly, a photo card was the most common random item, as 96.9 percent of album packages contained them.

Fans often buy the same album multiple times in order to complete their collection of photo cards, which were revealed to have up to 78 different kinds in the survey. There was also a consumer complaint that 10 cards out of 15 offered in a package of an album were the same, the KCA said.

The agency warns about environmental problems caused by discarding the album after fans have taken the merchandise that they want from it.

“More albums need to be sold without compact disks and the merchandise should be sold separately to prevent fans from discarding albums after buying them an unnecessary amount of times,” said KCA official Jung Hye-yoon in an interview with local media.