Hello Kitty has officially turned 40 and I am just as obsessed with her now (20 years later) as when I was in elementary school. I used to think it was just me and a crazy few who had shared the same fascination with the character, turns out I was sorely mistaken (Shock to follow).
Hello Kitty is worth seven billion a year to the Sanrio organization that created her (Hello Kitty, 2014). SEVEN BILLION. Billion with a B. If you’re thinking what I was thinking, I thought millions, maybe 999 million, but I never thought billions or seven billion for that matter! So how does a simple child-like rendering of a cat become worth seven-bill?
Let us start with the product assortment. Hello Kitty has been featured by many brands including high-end labels such as Yohji Yamamoto, Pour Lolita, and for the prestigious John Galliano for Dior (Medina, 2015). Sanrio has also collaborated with lower end high demand brands such as MAC cosmetics, Vans shoes, and McDonalds (Medina, 2015).
That is seven billion, NOT including collaborations with products Sanrio does not approve. For example products, that people make and distribute on their own. Some of the personal distribution products are pretty awesome. Here are some of my favs.
Branding expert, Dori Clark states it is Hello Kitty’s mouth-less design that provides somewhat of a blank canvas where we can project our emotions (Hello Kitty, 2014). Hello Kitty expert (yes EXPERT), Christine Yano also states her success to her “aesthetically pleasing design.” With a lack of mouth and no expressions, this allows Hello Kitty to be very versatile and constant, which makes her appealing to every age.
Of course nostalgia very much plays into some of our cult followings too. Who doesn’t remember the simple times when your biggest worry was what HK pencil you were going to buy? From the pencils to the theme park, I think it is safe to say that Sanrio did it right. Simple design, consistent messaging and collaborate with everyone.
Medina, N. (2015). Hello Kitty Clothes for Adults Go High Fashion With Sanrio and Yohji Yamamoto Collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.idigitaltimes.com/hello-kitty-clothes-adults-go-high-fashion-sanrio-and-yohji-yamamoto-collaboration-425774
Hello Kitty turns 40: how did she become so popular? (2014). Retrieved from http://www.theweek.co.uk/business/61149/hello-kitty-turns-40-how-did-she-become-so-popular