Introduction

Research background and motivations

Understanding consumer behaviors in music consumption is a significant and continuous phenomenon requiring sustained attention, especially when language barriers and lack of distribution channels exist. Music, if treated as brands, can benefit from understanding its global consumer base in the form of increased consumer preferences and purchase likelihood (Llonch-Andreu, LópezLomelí, & Gómez-Villanueva, 2016; Yang, Jin, & Sheng, 2017). As a product, music is a powerful commodity unifying different demographics globally. Korean pop music, or KPop, is a recent and significant example. Its rapid developments made KPop very influential toward South Korea's development (G. Kim, 2017; Park, 2013). In 2012, its entertainment industry grossed US$3.4 billion, influencing a US$412 increase in consumer goods exports for every US$100 increase in cultural exports. In 2015, cultural exports hit US$4 billion (Jin & Yoon, 2017). In 2016, the major KPop production agencies enjoyed huge sales growth, buoyed by the significant increases in international markets in Asia (Chen, 2016), North and Latin America, and Europe (Han, 2017; G. Kim, 2017; M. Kim, Heo, Choi, & Park, 2014; Meza & Park, 2014). SM Entertainment, the 2016 domestic market leader, grossed US$308 million, up from US$287 million a year ago, whereas YG Entertainment, its closest competitor, made US$283 million compared with US$166 million a year ago. This export of Korean cultural products, often called as "Hallyu" or the "Korean Wave," has an economic asset value of US$83.2 billion, where US$5.26 billion is generated by KPop. The ripple effects on some Korean products are significant as well. Hallyu-related goods' export growth increased from 17.8% in 2014 to 33.3% in 2015. This includes consumer goods such as cosmetics, beverages, and bath accessories. Tourism is also on the rise, as the country has significantly grown its first-time and repeated foreign visitors. While it is widely accepted that music is nowadays a global product (d'Astous, Voss, Colbert, Caldwell, & Courvoisier, 2008), KPop's explosion over a short period of time is a significant topic of interest (Huang, 2017; Jin & Yoon, 2017). This research focuses on the phenomenally sustained patronage from international fans, who, despite obvious cultural differences and language barriers, exhibit strong and organized attitudes and behaviors favoring KPop (J. B. Choi & Maliangkay, 2015).