Hello Kitty turned 40 years old: with evidence that this high profit icon has much to celebrate. The Japanese brand started simple enough, as an icon on a wallet. Back then, in 1974, the character did not have a name. What’s even more interesting, the character also did not have a mouth. Today, it still does not have a mouth, but the given name Hello Kitty, is one that drives sales around the world.
FoxNews interviewed a Japanese economist, Takuro Morinaga, to gain insight into the character’s longevity. According to Morinaga, the strength of the character lies in its basic looks that have a certain lasting appeal in Japanese pop culture. He points out that the design of the character, with a round face and plump body, is just as important as its strong personality.
This all stands to reason, since the brand has been embraced well beyond the children’s market, in which it began. At the time of its launch, the character was marketed to young girls. According to International Business Times, the expansion of Hello Kitty into a global, highly profitable brand has not been accidental. The character, owned by Sanrio Company, has been able to capitalize on a number of factors, not the least of which are fashion and its marketing reach.
Expanding from the children’s market and finding success with teenagers, mothers, and professional women was a natural step for the brand. As FoxNews reported, Hello Kitty became requested by young mothers who themselves had enjoyed the character as a child. This full on embrace of the brand is why in 2014 the brand was worth upwards of $7 billion dollars a year.
The recent Hello Kitty convention held in Los Angeles this past weekend in honor of the high profit icon was the first of its kind, as reported by CNN. The chosen venue, the Museum of Contemporary Art, served as the backdrop for the festivities, suggestive of the brand’s impact on culture.
Guests of the sold out convention were to follow a specific decorum, in that there was to be no outpouring exchanges of birthday salutations. The Sanrio company’s marketing director, Dave Marchi, explained that the intention was for the brand to be honored as a happiness ambassador, of sorts. The convention atmosphere would then be consistent with the brand’s appeal and ability to connect with many different people in more ways than one.
As reported by International Business Times, there is a myriad of ways to connect with the brand, given that at least 22,000 products bearing the Hello Kitty icon are circulating the global marketplace. From children’s toys, to cosmetics cases, to clothing lines designed by Richie Rich, the designer’s last name just happens to encapsulate the brand’s marketing ingenuity.
Recently, word came that what looks like a cat is not a cat at all, as written about by Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist who has studied Hello Kitty in-depth for several years. According to the Los Angeles Times, Yano recalled when she described the icon as a cat, and was provided with the fact that the high profit icon Hello Kitty, is a girl. This, however, is information that adds to the brand’s intrigue and popularity. As Sanrio company strives to make the product increasingly relatable, there are new and different aspects to learn which easily draws curiosity, followed by sales.
By Karen J. Dabney
Photo by Hideya Hameno – Flickr