48 Group, the sister groups of AKB48, and Sakamichi Series, Nogizaka46 and Keyakizaka46 … What is the future of the Warring States Idols? ~ Think about how to extend groups based on data ~

AKB48 continues to sell more than 1 million CDs, and Nogizaka46 · Keyakizaka46 (Sakamichi Series) gain momentum. However, as many idols increase, the idol market will gradually saturate. In this situation, which direction should they head? Where are the fans they should target?

Based on the results of the survey we conducted, we studied the trends of fans of them, and found new facts. Here are things they need to acquire new fans.


■Overwhelming recognition of AKB48

In this article, we are going to use the results of the leisure survey Fields Yoka Survey (*1) (FYS), which we conduct every year in December. Let’s see a figure below. It shows recognition rate of each group by sex and age. According to this, AKB48 is overwhelming, followed by Nogizaka46, Keyakizaka46. However, even if it is a “Sakamichi Series”, it has at least a recognition of over 55%, and you can say that AKB48 and the “Sakamichi Series” are both fully national groups.

Figure1: Recognition rate of each group by sex and age


■Sakamichi Series has the most momentum

Next, let’s look at the proportion of people who know them and say “I like them very much” (hereinafter referred to as ‘big fans’) for each age. As you can see below, the popularity of the “Sakamichi Series” are high among all age of men and young ager of women, proved that today’s common idea “Sakamichi Series have momentum” is true. Especially, Nogizaka46, who look clean and beautiful, is popular among men, and Keyakizaka46, who look cool and artistic appeal, is popular among young women (compared to men).

Figure 2: Proportion of ‘big fan’ out of people who recognize each sex and age among people who know each group


■‘Big fans’ do not want to spend money

So, is it can be said that a large market is being built around the Sakamichi Series as it become more popular than AKB48? In that case, it should be important for AKB48 to gain more ‘big fans’ as Sakamichi Series did.

Now, let’s see a figure below. It shows that how much these ‘big fans’ can/want to spend to their idols.

Figure3: how much these ‘big fans’ can/want to spend to their idols


First of all, there are only few differences between the groups for each term. Almost 50% of each group’s ‘big fans’ answered “ I don’t want to use much” and only 9% of them want to use “as much as I can”. These three groups are famous for enclosing handshake tickets in their CDs, but looking at this result, people who buy large quantities of CDs* is 9% at most.

*Some idol fans will buy more than 1 CD to get more tickets so they can shake hands with their idols for a longer period of time.

Thus, even there is a difference in the number of ‘big fans’, the proportion of “‘big fans’ who would pay money to support them” (hereinafter defined as ‘idols buffs’) is almost the same. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is important to increase the number of ‘big fans’.


■‘Idols buffs’ who participating in the event often likes anime and voice actors

So, how often are these group’s ‘big fans’ participate in the idol event? Among the ‘big fans’ of the three groups, it was only 2.7% last year – although there are 9% who answered “I want to use money as much as possible” for the question above.

This result suggests that even though there are quite a lot of people who answered “I like them very much” or “I do not limit money to use for them”, there are very few people who actually participate in the event.

It is surprising that there are so many ‘big fans’ who haven’t to go to meet them, in spite of the idol’s concept: “Idol you can meet”.*

*There are events called “National handshake events (Zenkoku Akushu kai)” held not only in the group’s base city (Tokyo for AKB, etc.) but in several locations throughout Japan. Tickets to these events are obtained by buying their CD, so fans can sure meet their idols if they want to do so.

From the results above, you can say that increasing the number of ‘big fans’ doesn’t increase the number of ‘idols buffs’ because the most of the ‘big fans’ do not use money for their idols.

So, how can we make the number of ‘idols buffs’? In such a situation, interesting data was found from this survey. It turned out that the participation rate of anime-related events (animation, manga, games and voice actors’ events) of ‘big fans’ of the three groups was 5.9%.

Although it is a low figure, twice as idol event participants are participated in anime events despite saying they like idols very much.

Figure4: Participation rate of idol events (left) and anime-related events (right) among ‘big fans’ of the three groups


There are various forms of anime events, but it can be said that people participating in anime events doesn’t mind supporting their contents in the event. There seems high barrier to participate in the idol event, but since they like to participate in anime event, they have high aptitude to be ‘idols buffs’ as well.

“Twice as idol event participants are participated in anime events” means even if all idol event participants are half of the anime event participants, there is still another half of anime-event participant who haven’t participate in the idol event yet; anime event market is larger than idol event market.


■Anime culture and idol culture are approaching rapidly

In the 2000s, both idol culture and anime culture decided Akihabara as their mecca, but there was no cultural exchange. Rather, anime fans tended to criticize the way of selling idol CDs with hand shake ticket, and disliked idol culture. However, it can be said that there is a tendency that anime fans and idol fans are overlapping in recent years. Probably because there are hits of anime and games that are motifs idol “Love Live!” and “THE IDOLM@STER”, and voice actors who appear in those works are idolized.

Also, anime culture adopted idol culture’s way of selling CDs – you need to buy a large amount of CD to participate in anime concerts. So now anime fans accept the way, and it may make them feeling sympathized with idol fans.

If so, in order for the idol group to acquire new ‘idols buffs’, it’s not enough to acquire just a ‘big fans’ of idols; it is important to acquire big fans of idols who have been to anime events but have never been to an idol event. It can be said that the group that acquire a large number of new big fans beyond the genre will win in the future. In order to win in such way, it is important to clarify the reasons why those big fans of idols have participated in the anime event prior to the idol event. If a group putting themselves in fan’s shoes and improve their lacks, big fans may first wish to participate in their event, and that group can become the strongest group.


■The future of idol group

Looking back the results above, it seems that there is a difference between the number of ‘big fans’ of AKB48 and that of Sakamichi Series, but the proportion of ‘idols buffs’ of each group are both very few and turned out no difference.

Every group seems to be thinking about acquiring new fans as a challenge in order to achieve greater dreams, but in order to acquire ‘idols buffs’ rather than just ‘big fans’, it is important to targeting and supporting participants of anime events.

If AKB48 appeared in ANISON’s biggest event “Animelo Summer Live” and getting a big applause in the future, it may be said that the day they dream – hold Tokyo Dome concert again – is coming right there.



Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.

This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.


(※1)Fields Yoka Survey 2018

A web survey carried out in December 2017 which surveyed 11,642 people across the nation from elementary school age to 69 years of age. It queried their behaviors in relation to and their sense of values regarding free time.


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