Move over Bud, there’s a newer, cuter beer in town, at least in towns in Taiwan and China. The Japanese company Sanrio, the creators of the mega-character, Hello Kitty, have partnered with Taiwan Tsing Brewing Company, to produce fruity-flavored beers, hawked by the innocent-looking kitten, in an attempt to target the untapped market of Asian women.
Since the majority of beer drinkers in China are men, it has always been a challenge to come up with a softer approach to selling beer to women. Enter Hello Kitty, the sweet-faced, white kitten who starred in many a Chinese girl’s childhood. The alcohol content is about half of the average Budweiser, ranging from 2.3% to 2.8%. There are six flavors, including passion-fruit, lemon-lime, peach, and banana. Blogger, Eric Jou writing for Kotaku, says the beer is “tasty” stating, “It’s almost like drinking fruit juice.”
Not as potent as other beers, the Hello Kitty beer is still not for minors. According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty beer is not being marketed to minors, but instead it targets women, a market untapped by the Asian brewing industry. By tying Hello Kitty to the product, Sanrio hopes to touch those same women who literally have grown up with Hello Kitty since her inception in 1974, when designer Yuko Shimizu, added her to the Sanrio rubber sandal product line.
Using nostalgia to sell the Hello Kitty brand of products is not a new idea for Sanrio. In the ‘90’s, the company expanded the market from primarily young girls to teens and adults, when the product line-up began to include laptops, purses and apparel. Since then, it has exploded in popularity. By 2011, the licensing of Hello Kitty products alone accounted for $800 million, putting Hello Kitty at number five in the Forbes list of bestselling licensed entertainment products that year.
The first product Hello Kitty appeared on was a small vinyl purse. Now the white kitty with the big bow can be seen on almost every conceivable product, from greeting cards to computer equipment. She has her own video games, television shows, and theme parks. Sanrio has also partnered with various corporations to release Hello Kitty-branded products, such as the Hello Kitty Stratocaster electric guitar by Fender and the Hello Kitty Jet by Airbus.
For now, the Hello Kitty beer will only be sold in Taiwan and China, with no plans of it making its way to the United States. In 2011, China chugged its way to the top of the beer drinking charts, consuming 50 billion liters of beer as compared to the 24 billion liters of beer consumed in the United States. There is, however; a line of Hello Kitty wines available in the United States. They are made by the family owned boutique winery, Torti Tenimenti Castelrotto. The untapped potential of the female Asian target market has yet to be seen by Hello Kitty executives, but Sanrio is hoping that for women who drink it, Hello Kitty beer will live up to the company motto, “small gift, big smile.”
By: Lisa Nance