Hello Kitty is worth how much?!

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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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References

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

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5 Responses to Hello Kitty is worth how much?!

  1. Nicholas says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for a great blog with lots of interesting information on Hello Kitty. It would be weird for me to say as a grown adult male, I am a fan of Hello Kitty. I have, however, been exposed to Hello Kitty recently because of my two young nieces (22 months and 8 months old.) They don’t seem to have enough of Hello Kitty. I guess I have to continue to contribute to the Hello Kitty $7 billion empire.

  2. Kim says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I got a kick out of your Hello Kitty post and I was a little shocked to hear they have joined the “B” club. Hello Kitty really really is a major player, that’s awesome!

    I had all boys so I was not familiar with it when they first came out however, I had a girlfriend that loved Hello Kitty, so I went searching to buy her a present. After I was introduced to it, I began to see Hello Kitty everywhere. I even saw fancy, sparkle Hello Kitty trinkets at Neiman Marcus in the fine jewelry department, not that I bought any. I have to admit it was so, very cute on the other hand, I was a little blown away the brand was picked up by a fine jewelry store.

    The popularity of the brand twenty years later truly is an amazing success story and many adult ladies have a fetish for it too! When I bought my girlfriend a Hello Kitty present I was reluctant to buy it because it looks like it is just for little girls, boy, was I wrong.

    Very fun, happy post!

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi. I too am a Hello Kitty fan (yes, I am 51) and I never gave much thought to the lack of a mouth, but now that you mention it I can see how that contributes. She has such an innocent face. I am also a fan of Snoopy but he definitely has attitude. Also interesting is that Sanrio confirmed that Hello Kitty is not a cat and apparently this was mind blowing to the world and made headlines (http://digiday.com/brands/hello-kitty-not-a-cat/). But ultimately I think it speaks to her brand power.
    Thanks.
    Lisa

  4. Marnae says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Interesting post, I didn’t know Hello Kitty experts existed either. I initially thought Hello Kitty made lots of money, because of the licensing deals Sanrio had with other companies. I would have never imaged $7 billion, but the Hello Kitty experts provided great insight as to why the Hello Kitty design appeals to many people and why the design works with so many products.

  5. Jessica says:

    Hi Jessica,

    What an interesting post! I had no idea Hello Kitty was worth that much but I have heard it is a popular international brand. I think Hello Kitty does a great job of creating “super fans” maybe like Lisa :). Those people that are into Hello Kitty like to get any and everything with the Hello Kitty design.

    Believe it or now I am not a fan but my mom (who is 62) loves Hello Kitty.