Idols Learning Marketing Lecture 1st Session : What is the Most Important Value for Idols to Provide?

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Idols Learning Marketing Lecture 1st Session : What is the Most Important Value for Idols to Provide?

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Idols are at the most cutting edge in marketing?!

Have you ever thought of combine “idol” and “marketing”?
Ordinarily, when you think of “idols,” people would imagine the glorious world with singing and dancing, but the idol industry changes so rapidly and now gradually becoming an uncertain industry. During this time, it is now important for idols themselves to think about how they can present their own charm. And this project was for idols to learn about marketing theories from the lecturers who are professionals in business studies and marketing theories, stating that idols are in the frontier of modern marketing.

To make their dream come true, what would they do, and how could they act efficiently? This lecture was for idols can learn the know-how of the business and marketing theories. This is the first experiment, what will the result be?

There will be three sessions for this lecture. For the first session, we will present the session digest with three topics, the changes of idol market, the importance of idol’s self-marketing, and the basic marketing theories.

The teacher of this lecture
CuteStrategy (Twitter


Introduction of the students 
Yufu Terashima, who has debut since 2011 as an idol, and made a major label debut on May 20th, 2015. She has collaborated with “yuru-kyara (mascots)” which gained more attention from the public. Yufu comments, “I have been working solo so I hope I can dispatch more of what I am doing and I want to do. I hope I will learn how to deliver to the people who are not my fan. I want to increase new fans!”


Yufu Terashima

Saki Mori, been active since 2011 as the member of the group, UPUPGIRLS (KARI). “Sempai from the agency like Sayumi Michishige-san or Momoko Tsugunaga-san are very excellent at self-marketing which makes them shine even more. I feel that I don’t have that enough, so I want to advance my self-marketing skill.”



Having the Japanese prominent sociologist, Satoshi Hamano, as overall producer, started their activity since the end of 2014, Satoshi Hamano and the members of the group, from Platonics Idol Platform (aka PIP), Nonoka Ishikawa, Miyu Sorai, and Maika Hamano also joins in the session. Nonoka Ishikawa, the leader of the group comments, “From the group concept, I think it’s necessary to think about marketing of myself and the other members. And as a leader, I would like to learn a lot from the lectures.”


Nonoka Ishikawa (Right), Miyu Sorai (Center), Maika Hamano (Left)


Abstract of the Idol Market 
First, please look at the current idol market and the environment of the idols are put in to.

Like on the graphs below, the interest rate of idols are annually decreasing and the idol breakthrough is slowly diminishing as well.


As the number of the idol groups have increased, the fans’ enthusiasms have also been spread, and there are more disbandment and graduation of the popular idols, the boom has settled.


How do the students here, the experienced idols, interpret this shift in the market?


Ms. Terashima “As there are more Idol Festivals and Battle of the Bands events, with that influence, I feel like there are more DD (one fan liking multiple idols) people. It’s nice that there are different people cheering for me, but I also feel regret that idol fans are losing their passion to cheer for idols. ”

Ms. Mori “When I was in elementary, Morning Musume. was popular and when I was in high school AKB48 was popular. And when I was in university, K-pop became popular, but I also do think that it has become a decline.”

As we have compared the markets’ graph of ups-and-downs, it also shows the current idol industry is declining. The lecturers would like to teach the students, despite this declining situation, to challenge the third strategy “Expansion” to create and develop a new market.



Key to success to learn from the company which has been succeeding

There are clear data analysis that elites and intelligent business person really can’t predict the future in the uncertain stock markets and uncertain business world. So, it has said to believe in your own sensitivity than believing others excessively.

So what would be the important action that should be taken from the companies that are succeeding long-term within the uncertain business world?
-The repeating challenges that are willing to take efficiently and not being afraid of mistakes for their future vision (ideal image of the future).
-Turn one’s eye on the clientele’s action and opinions, and find out the ways to make them satisfied with new innovation.
These are the two most important points.

These are the methods that could be taken the best use of. Actually in the idol industry, with the closeness between the idols and fans, through handshake events and SNS, feedback is received much faster. With this specific characteristic, from feedback from the fans, idols can adjust their approach according to their own vision, and to find out new ways to appeal to new markets.


So, until now, we have explained the importance of the idol’s self-marketing. Next, we will explain the basics of the business in order to have idols’ to learn about marketing.


Growth Story is the core value what idols to provide

First, when we question the definition of what business is, it actually means “the exchange between the value and money.”

Especially the value which we needs changes according to the time period and currently we spend the money not on the materials, products, service rather on experience. So experience has been the most valuable matter in business world. And it has been thought of idol industry as not only providing the fans with music and live concerts as products or services, but more to the “experience for the fans to have and how they would feel from that experience.”

Next, what would be for idols to have as a core value?

That is, their growing story of the idols.

One of the biggest differences between Japanese idols and stars from other countries entertainment is that Japanese idol has successfully monetized the growth period to actress or singers. So idols are meant to be incomplete at the basic. Because of that, having a live concert at a venue getting bigger, the mentalinner growth when the members overcome their arguments and fights, and the obstacles that the managers idol producer have set like the numbers of CDs that they have to sell, are some of the scenes that the fans would feel the necessity to cheer them. This would be the core aspect for the idol business. Not only about their own stories of themselves growing up, the growth of the relationship between the fans is also important as well. Because of the enthusiastic fans who come to the handshaking event many times and posting comments on blogs and SNS, both has the two-way relationship.



The three important points for idols to understand marketing

Lastly in the first session, the students have learned about the three important tips of how idols can be thinking about marketing within the basics of business. And those are, selection and concentration, the differentiation, and the PDCA cycle.

1.Selection and Concentration
Company and the individual resources are limited and to grasp how to invest that resources, and concentrate on a specific resource the major effect for profit. It is important to think about what would you sell to who (target), and how would you transmit (media) within that basis. Also, time is the most limited resources for each individuals, classifying and dividing your own work according to the degree of importance and urgency, and then prioritize to get them done according to the time management.

With many of the groups and idols competing each other, it is important to clarify your own appeal to many people as possible, and what makes it different from others. The students have learned it from the question asking them which brand from the fast-fashion industry do you like and why do you like them. This exercise was to have them recognize what it means to differentiate, and the resulting merits for the idols it would be. They also have learned it visually with the example of positioning mapping in famous Japanese television stars.

3.PDCA cycle
You can’t make your dreams come true by acting just randomly. In the business world, PDCA cycle has been used often, which is the cycle of Plan, Do, Check, and Action. This cycle will adjust individual action to be more efficient and effective. They have learned with the example of cooking, of how they can be better at cooking by using the PDCA cycle.


So, have you started to understand the current idols’ situation and the idol business abstract through this lecture? Actually, what we have learned at this first session will play a very important role in a series of lecture. The next session will be about the approach for the students (students) to get closer to their dreams!

Related links
Yufu Terashima official site :
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) official site :
PIP official site :

The teacher of this lecture CuteStrategy

Written by Risa Miyano
Photo by Yasuhiro Okada
Translated by Satsuki

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Risa Miyano

A student at Waseda University. I'm a big fan of J-Idol.

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