CJ E&M: KCON Goes Global
In January of 2017, CJ Entertainment & Media (E&M) proudly announced that it will be holding its first ever KCON in Mexico City just two months later. CJ Group Chairman Jay Lee and Vice Chairwoman Miky Lee are pleased at the progress that KCON, a Korean-oriented music and cultural convention, has made since its debut in LA in 2012. In the years since 2012, the event has been held every year in LA, and has recently also taken place in New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Abu Dhabi, with varying levels of financial success. In addition to growing in number, KCON has grown in size. By 2016, KCON LA had become a three-day, two-concert affair, that attracted 70,000 attendees with a wide range of experiences for fans to enjoy, including Korean foods, dance classes, beauty products, and eSports offerings. Chairman Lee and VC Lee believe that KCON is a good vehicle for accelerating the Hallyu wave of Korean culture that was still sweeping the globe, and riding this wave in promoting CJ Group offerings. Indeed, the Group's food brand Bibigo, which ran nine restaurants in the LA area and sold frozen dumplings and other Korean foods in Costco across the U.S., and KCON.tv, a digital media channel, were experiencing commercial success in the U.S. market. But at the same time, there was some uncertainty about the best way to ensure continued growth of the KCON concept. Should they expand the current KCONs to include more days, shows, and events; launch KCONs in new geographies such as Southeast Asia or Australia; or some combination of these growth strategies? How concerned should they be with KCON's uneven financial performance and difficulty in generating sponsorship revenue? KCON LA and KCON Tokyo have made a profit for multiple years in a row, and KCON NY was in the black for the first time in 2016, but other KCONs lost money. What can they do to further grow the Bibigo brand in the US? At a more fundamental level, could CJ E&M continue to bank on the popularity of k-pop and k-dramas to drive broader interest in Korean culture?