Insight: What makes a fandom work? HILL ASEAN studies what brings these communities together

TOKYO, JAPAN — Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN (HILL ASEAN) held ASEAN SEI KATSU-SHA FORUM 2022, announcing findings from surveys and research into the attitudes and behavior of ASEAN sei-katsu-sha — Hakuhodo’s term for the holistic person—as well as implications for marketing. The topic was “Into the Fandom: How tribes of fans will be the next power in ASEAN society?”

A “fandom” is generally defined as: “People who are passionate fans of singers, manga, sports, hobbies, and so on, and the world/culture formed by these fans.” In Japan, the phenomenon has recently been expressed using the new coinage “oshikatsu,” which means “to enthusiastically support a singer, actor, etc., that one feels particular devotion to.”

HILL ASEAN conducted quantitative research on and interviewed “Fandom sei-katsu-sha” passionate about their fandoms in six ASEAN countries (Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, AND Philippines) and Japan to shed light on the what triggered them to join their fandom, the activities they engage in with fellow fans, the benefits they receive from their fandom, and the structure and significance of their fandom communities.


Our findings showed that ASEAN sei-katsu-sha gain not just fun and relief from the stresses of life from their fandoms. Fandoms also offer fans a place to explore their creativity, a sense of belonging, connections with others that are like a second family, and the power of numbers, which enables them to change the world. Moreover, ASEAN Fandom sei-katsu-sha are all equal within their community. A society free of hierarchy is, in a way, an ideal society, and fandoms are a place of comfort and support for Fandom sei-katsu-sha.

Meanwhile, HILL ASEAN nominated three hopes that ASEAN sei-katsu-sha seeks to have met in their fandom: “To matter,” “To have something that matters” and “To have my hopes that matter fulfilled.” It became clear that ASEAN fandom sei-katsu-sha are passionate about their fandoms because they are unlikely to receive or have met in actual society the benefits and value they gain from their fandoms.

Growing economic disparity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and political, environmental, and gender issues. These and other social issues that are beyond sei-katsu-sha’s ability to solve on their own existence in ASEAN. The findings show that in ASEAN, fandoms could be utopias with new economic zones and living spaces, where all is equal and egalitarian.

From these findings, HILL ASEAN coined the term MATTER-VERSE—meaning an ideal community that fulfills the most cherished hopes of sei-katsu-sha—to denote the fandoms that seize the hearts of ASEAN sei-katsu-sha in ways unlikely to be achieved in actual society.

This report looks at some of the quantitative research.

The characteristics of ASEAN Fandom communities:

  1. Creativity: Community members express creativity while working together to plan events and produce merch to enjoy together
  2. A second family: Pure, mutually supportive relationships in which community members trust each other like family and even advise and help each other in matters unrelated to the fandom subject
  3. The power of numbers: Community members gather, collaborate, and leverage their collective power to exert influence on behalf of the fandom subject and society. Through this, they experience the thrill of changing the world
  4. Equality: A utopia where all community members are equal and respected without discrimination or prejudice because they are bonded by their shared passion

The three “matters” ASEAN sei-katsu-sha seek to have met in their fandom:

  1. To matter
  2. To have something that matters
  3. To have their hopes that matter fulfilled

ASEAN fandom sei-katsu-sha vs. Japan Fandom sei-katsu-sha:

ASEAN Fandom sei-katsu-sha Japan Fandom sei-katsu-sha
“Me, you and our fandom” 

A happy world for me, you, and our  fandom where we can all have fun and  grow

Fandom’s meaning “Me and my fandom” 

A fun world for just me and my fandom

To fill a hole in their life Purpose Simply to have fun and relieve stress
Don’t just have fun. Try to affect the world  around them with their fellow fansAction Mainly focused on personal enjoyment
Seek a sense of belonging and have fun  with othersSocial ties Can enjoy alone
Extension of everyday lifeFandom’s relationship to  everyday life Separate from everyday life


Brand fandoms:

  • Around 83% of ASEAN Fandom sei-katsu-sha responded affirmatively to the question: “Is there any brand you are passionate about?” (Compared to around 54% of Japan Fandom sei-katsu-sha).
  • Three reasons we identified for becoming a fan of a brand were: well-designed, high-quality products or services, emotional value and action, and an attractive fan community.
  • HILL ASEAN will continue to support the marketing activities of companies in ASEAN through research into the attitudes and behavior of ASEAN sei-katsu-sha.

A special webpage has been created for this research on the HILL ASEAN website. It contains detailed survey findings, commentary on the research content, implications for marketing, and other information.

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