Friday, January 29, 2010

Sanrio's Hello Kitty Pop Up pencils

Once again, I couldn't resist going back to Hollywood & Highland's Sanrio (I keep thinking Vine street; thanks HK Junkie for the correction)...  and look what I found.

Pop up pencils!

Cute, huh?

I bought the keychain with the intention to use it. I don't collect keychains like these, but it be cute to have something like this to kittyfy up my wardrobe even if it's a little thing. Thanks to my great Hello Kitty friend, I have now added H&M's hair ribbon accessory to my hair, which I get a lot of compliments. 

Momoberry Double
Here's a secret tibit that I might share with you Momoberry fans: Do you love the pink Momoberry plush? 
Well, I have one double copy (size M) that I might sell in the future. Wouldn't that be such a great treasure? How badly would you want it? Though, I might not part with it unless I find the small version first to complete my pink set. Wanna help a fellow sanrio addict out?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big Hello Kitty Plush on the Way

Big Accomplishment:

I finally did it! I got enough funds to buy my big Hello Kitty plush, the 22" tall one.

I am so excited to get it in the mail soon. The lady who works at my apartment complex's manager office must think I'm crazy because I regularly get packages coming through their small pick up mail room. I love my apartment so much because USPS, UPS, and FedEx never leave my packages on my doorstep if no one is home. I used to live in an apartment where the mailman just left the package at the doorstep without leaving a pick up notice. He did it so many times that I literally had to get my own post office mail box because I had been afraid someone would just take my package.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pets are Dangerous to Your Sanrio Collection

I do love Hello Kitty.

Really, I do. I love the cartoon version, just not the animal in real life. I like cats, but I don't L-O-V-E them as much as I love dogs - small dogs, to be more precise. I prefer dogs over cats any day. If you remember last year's post, my cat, Starlight is a cutie and I love her. The problem is that I like living with only ONE cat and my brother wants another siamese kitten. We'll see how long I last with two energetic cats in my small apartment(have I mentioned my home is small?) - woe is me. Wah!

Since I don't want another cat, I have tried blackmailing my brother to let me name the new kitten, Pochacco or even Keroppi. No deal there. He flatly refused and wouldn't budge. Can you believe him?   *pouting*

Why Pochacco or Keroppi? Because the kitten is going to be male. A blue point. I wish I can get a small dog and name it Pochacco, but I live in apartment... a house would be an ideal home for a dog,rather than an apartment. Plus, imagine my horror with two cats and one dog in my super tiny apartment! Yikes.

My brother is getting the new kitten in March... that leaves me less than two months to convince him to name the cat after a sanrio character. Wish me luck. I'm going need it. Especially since the nearest Siamese breeder is near San Francisco. It's too expensive to fly out a kitten. Instead, road trip, people! SF's Sanrio stores (both 2 locations), here I come! Yipee!

.::Your Pet Might Be Your Enemy::.

If you are a sanrio collector and if you have a young kitten or dog, you should know that any Sanrio stuff on the floor (or fell on the floor) should be picked up immediately and kept out of reach from your pet. This is a #1 rule if you still want your sanrio collection to be in mint condition! 

One time, I accidentally dropped my Keroppi pencil case box lock on the floor without realizing that it had fallen onto the floor and later found it at Starlight's feet. The darn cat had played with it, making it no longer mint brand new condition. Because of this, I like to keep my important stuff wrapped and tucked away in bins so my mischief Starlight can't mess with it. Another thing I noticed about having a cat is that once they find anything of paper or tissue, they'll tear it to pieces. 

I imagine this:
claws + sanrio = end up chasing after Starlight

I love the idea of one day putting my huge plush sitting at the corner of the room (just on the floor), but with a cat in the home, I fear the cat will end up using her claws at my plush. Same with puppies, except they'd use their teeth instead. If you love your sanrio collection, beware of your pets!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Even More Sanrio

Update on yesterday's post

The new 2010 Hello Kitty plushes come in different sizes: tiny size, small 6", and on Sanrio's USA website, there are 10" and 18".

^  I'm really tempted to buy the 18" version and use it like a pillow. I'd finally put a Hello Kitty plush into some good use. I'd probably buy the blue one rather than the all pink one.

Spent Way More on Sanrio
As you would probably guess, Saturday's shopping spree wasn't my only purchases. This week, I have won several sanrio auction lots off of e-bay. As you guess it, all except one item are vintage.

 *Bears* series!!! 

2001 Pochacco letterset. Not vintage... yet.

I only buy the full set of stationary, which includes sticker as well.

I love you, Pochacco!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sanrio Retail Therapy

In sanrio stores, there is a new kind of Hello Kitty plushie.

^  In my local store at Hollywood & Vine, there were only small HK plushes. I didn't see any bigger versions. I'm glad to get to see it in person. The Hello Kitty 6" plushes are kinda cute. I held it and the plush felt so soft. I keep thinking it would be a very nice plush to sleep with. You know how some plushes is just not too comfortable to have next to you on your bed. I think I'd enjoy having the bigger sized plush like in the picture above... and no, this isn't the HUGE plush I mentioned in Saturday's post that I was currently having my eye on to purchase it quite soon. Trust me, when I finally get the funds to buy the plush, you'll hear me holler my joy.   ;0p

.::My Sanrio Purchases::.

On Saturday when I found out one of my local Sanrio stores was closing, I visited another local Sanrio store @ Hollywood, where I did my Sanrio Therapy Shopping. I spent $78 in total. The 10.5 inches tall plush below cost $30, but definitely worth the money.

Don't you want me?

Impulse Buy... not the same HK figure as the original 80's *Balloon* series

What I did not expect to find where pretty good looking pens that was made in 2009!

Pochacco pen is a vintage piece

What makes this Little Twin Stars and My Melody multi color pen so special is that it also has a mechanical 0.5mm pencil inside combined. At first, I was puzzled because I couldn't find the mechanical pencil option, until I pushed down the pen's clip. So cute when I found that neat lil trick.

As promised, here is a group picture of my Little Twin Stars' *Romantic* 2009 glassware set.

Ain't it pretty?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One Sanrio store closed and Counting...

Another one down and your local sanrio store may be next!

What am I talking about? If you have been following me on twitter, you probably already heard the news about California's Glendale Galleria's Sanrio store being closed in just a few days away. Isn't that awful?! There seems to be too many Sanrio stores being closed down due to the bad economy.

.::My Local Sanrio Stores Closed List::.
  • Northridge
  • Burbank
  • Glendale Galleria

The only local Sanrio store that is still open is in Hollywood and Vine! The sales rep at Hollywood store assured me that their sanrio store will not close it's doors anytime soon. They still have five more years on their contract with the mall. That is such good news for a sanrio addict like me because I really don't want to end up driving far to get to a sanrio store.

New Sanrio Computer Mouse and Mousepads:

 I really like the mousepad. So pretty! You can get it here.

I definitely like the star shape idea of a mouse

^  I really like the Hello Kitty mouse and mousepad a lot. I'm really tempted to get one myself. Not sure if I will. I hope they sell it here in the USA because I rather save money on shipping fees and the service fees to buy it from a Japanese shopping agency. What a dilemma for a sanrio addict. Buy or should not buy... I can picture myself walking down a street and picking up a white petal flower (forgot the name) and playing the "He Loves Me or He Loves Me Not," but replacing it with "Buy or Don't Buy." I should do this for all my future sanrio potential purchases. Maybe it'd keep me from overspending and going over my sanrio budget.

By the way, do you follow your monthly sanrio budgets religiously? I try, but there are definitely times where I just completely ignore it and just scrimp and manage to come up with the funds to get a Sanrio product. Right now, I am eyeing to buy this HUGE 22 inches Hello Kitty plush. Yes, another huge plush to add to my collection. I know, I know - where in the world would I fit that in my small apartment? I'll give you an answer in less than a month and a half. Why the wait? Cause I live to torture you sanrio addicts.  ;0)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little Twin Stars USB Technology Gadget

One Word to Describe this Little Twin Stars item below...

C-U-T-E !!!

^  I hope Sanrio sells this in USA. If you can't wait to purchase it, it's sold here. The more I stare at the picture, I've decided that I can't wait for it to be sold in USA. I'd be waiting for a while. I'm getting my own copy. That's how sweet it looks. How about you?

Sanrio Hello Kitty Statues

Found new Sanrio items on Japan's Shopping website:

When I saw this Hello Kitty item below, I thought what a weird face, but definitely all pretty except for the face. Another thing is that the picture is too overbright to tell if it still looks good in regular setting.

This looked so real. I thought it was an actual photo but it's a statue.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Precious Little Twin Stars

Last year, while I was going through my collection, I stumbled upon this Little Twin Stars wallet, which I bought off e-bay about a few years ago. Below shows that it comes with a small chain, which brings a nice touch to this sanrio piece. Sorry, LTS addicts, but this piece is not for sale. I was tempted to sell it once or twice, but I can't let it go. The frills on the wallet plus the heart charm was what made me decide to keep this cute LTS item. Isn't this just precious?

This pink inside is so beautiful!

Another great find for me that I just got last year is this pretty Little Twin Stars *balloon* small coin bag.

^  It was thanks to a fellow sanrio collector that I was able to add this to my Little Twin Stars collection. This *balloon* design series is my one my ultimate favorite series. There's just something about those star shape and round shaped balloons that make me so fascinated.

Now next LTS vintage piece shown below is an absolute treasure.

^  As a Sanrio pen/pencil collector, this item set is an absolute "must have" in your collection. (Again not for sale, just for show) It has a pop up pencil, marker, pen, and more combined in this cute school set.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Renter's Insurance

If you live in California, you already know about the wild weather condition we are currently having. If not, where I live we are currently on the tornado warning weather look-out. Wait- in California??? Yup, that was my reaction still at this very moment. But, I think with the global warming, I really shouldn't be surprised. You only see worst case scenarios in movies, but to actually happen in real life, makes things scarier.

I live in one of the big areas where there is danger of earthquakes. Tornadoes maybe someday. I just wish I didn't have to live with another danger (i.e. tornado) added to the list of natural disasters. I think the smartest move is to think ahead and get renters' insurance for my place... which, incidentally, I had to buy anyways since my apartment's mandatory new policy is to get renter's insurance.

Even though renter's insurance can cover nearly all the expenses of damaged or loss items, it still does not cover over the emotional loss of my sanrio collection - if it ever happens. *Knocking on wood*
With so much hard earned money that was put into my sanrio collection, there could not be enough money to cover the time spent on building and loving my collection. Most of my collection are vintage and cannot easily be replaced more than others. I wish I can create this bubble of protection over my personal sanrio collection and not worry that I might lose it someday to some horrific natural disaster or fire. What a nightmare for this sanrio addict, huh? 

My collection reminds of me of why I first got my first full time job... and the motivation behind it was to keep enabling my sanrio obsession. I've had temporary jobs that made me some nice chunk of money to add to my savings before I discovered my Hello Kitty obsession. It was during that time that I didn't know what to do with all the money that I have saved and at the same time, I remembered my burning hatred (ok, slightly exaggeration of the word hate) for my childhood friend, who stole my Hello Kitty sticker book album and several sanrio pieces of pens/pencils/ and erasers. 
SIDE STORY: Have you ever had that kind of friend who stole behind your back? I regret being so trustful of people like that. Since then, I've always wanted to get in contact with her and demand my HK sticker album back and any others she stole. I was a still a kid back then to not know what had happened until a few months down the road, but then it had been too late already. That so-called friend had the audacity to show off my stolen HK sticker album in school during recess in front of our friends. At the time, I had no clue that it was mine and had been hurt that she wouldn't let me see it. It should have been the biggest sign that the reason she showed it to everyone else but me was because she had something to hide. I'll never make that mistake ever again. When visitors come, I now pay attention and never leave my important sanrio stuff out in the open for it to be snatched up and put away in their purse or handbag when your back is turned or when you leave the room. Marjorie Yolanda Lopez of the Valley, if you're out there, be ashamed!

Ok, back on topic: I wanted to replace the Sanrio Hello Kitty stickers she stole, so I went on e-bay and started buying many stickers. And before long, my sanrio obsession took off and knew in order to earn money to buy all these sanrio won auctions, I had to get a job. And, I got my first serious full time job, which helped me feed my sanrio addiction. I hated waking up early in the morning, but feeding my sanrio addiction was more important and I literally was living off paycheck to paycheck. There are times I wished I had started my obsession ten years earlier, rather than a few years back. 

*Probably/ most likely an absurd request*- If someone knows Marjorie Yolanda Lopez who went to Van Nuys High in 1999, please send me her contact info: I'd really like my sticker album back*

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pochacco collection

More random pictures of my sanrio collection:

I think I love Pochacco more than Keroppi... sometimes, I think. It's why I am not sure between Pochacco or Keroppi on which is my 2nd favorite sanrio character to collect.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sanrio Hello Kitty Toaster

You'll be surprised to learn that I might just be the only hello kitty collector out there who hasn't yet bought the HK Toaster.

I think the reason why I didn't buy a HK toaster is because I didn't really see the purpose of having one. When the product began appearing in sanrio stores, I was tempted to purchase one at first, but then I realized that I wouldn't really use it at all. One of the major factor was that I never use a toaster or toast a bread often. The only time I ever toast a slice of bread is if I'm making sloppy joe sandwiches, which I love with toasted bread. And the method I normally choose to toast my bread would be the oven.                                   Most likely best seller for Sanrio

Plus, another reason that I didn't buy this Hello Kitty toaster is because I have a thing about what goes in my kitchen. The toaster was a design that did not fit my image of what a kitchen should have.

Update on Junolyn's Store:

Below is a beautiful 2009 My Melody cosmetic bag (from the *Pipi & Popo series*) that is up for sale on my eCrater Store.

If you would like more details regarding the item above, please visit my store's link on the left side. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Case Study: Sanrio's Hello Kitty

"Hello Kitty," a Japanese Superbrand

Found this GREAT and interesting HK article online by accident!
Want to know the story behind the "Small gift, big smile" gimmick? Below is case study of the fascination with Hello Kitty and the history behind it's success and failures.

Go here to read this Case Study article OR continue to read below.

‘Hello Kitty’ 
She (Hello Kitty) is the original, and it is hard to replace her. She became the icon of cute for a whole generation. You can’t buy that kind of lucky coincidence.  
 – Ken Belson
Co-author, Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon, in 2004.

Hello Kitty was propelled from day one by the character’s cute and simple design. After 30 years, we’re glad to see that people are still buying her products.
 - Bill Hensley
Marketing Director, Sanrio Inc., in 2003

Exhibit VIII: A Brief Biography of Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty was born in suburban London on November 1. Her real name is Kitty White. Hello Kitty’s family consisted of her father, George White, mother Mary White and a twin sister, Mimmy. Other family members included Anthony and Mary White, Hello Kitty’s grandfather and grandmother respectively. Sanrio also created several friends for Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty was the name of a cartoon cat developed in 1974 by Sanrio Co. Ltd. (Sanrio), a Japanese company that sold character-branded goods in Japan and other parts of the world. Sanrio initially used the character to adorn petty merchandise like coin purses and pencil boxes targeted at small girls. However, after Hello Kitty became hugely popular, Sanrio extended the brand to a variety of other products. By the early 2000s, Hello Kitty featured on products ranging from vacuum cleaners to DVD players, toilet paper to cars, and computers to candy, and was thought to be one of the most powerful brands in the world. This case discusses the reasons for the popularity of Hello Kitty, and tries to analyze the unique features of the brand. It also talks about the various steps Sanrio took over the years to revive and reinvent Hello Kitty when sales showed signs of flagging. The role of celebrity endorsements in creating brand value is also discussed. The case concludes with a commentary on Sanrio’s efforts to convert Hello Kitty into a luxury brand.

Hello Kitty Goes Luxe
In early 2005, Sanrio Co Ltd. (Sanrio), the Japanese company which created the popular cartoon cat Hello Kitty, entered into a licensing agreement with jewelry designer Kimora Lee Simmons’ (Simmons) company, Simmons Jewelry Co., to create a line of diamond jewelry— the “Hello Kitty Collection by Kimora Lee Simmons.” Simmons’ jewelry line, which included pendants, rings, and diamond watches, was priced in the range of $350 to $3,5003, and was launched in March 2005. The diamond watches, which were reportedly the best selling items in the line, were priced between $1,875 and $3,250 and were available in eight different designs. All of Simmons’ jewelry was available exclusively at NeimanMarcus outlets across the US. (Refer to Exhibit I for pictures of some of Simmons’ jewelry pieces). Diamond jewelry was only a small part of the Hello Kitty merchandising universe. The Hello Kitty brand was also used on designer apparel, accessories, and perfumes. High-end pet accessories were sold under the label the “Hello Kitty Collection by Little Lilly” at upscale boutiques in the US. On the technology front, a Japanese company called Business Design Laboratory created a 20-inch tall Hello Kitty robot4 that could perform the job of front-desk personnel in the early 2000s. Apart from luxury products, consumers could also buy affordable products like Hello Kitty pencil boxes, purses, and apparel from various stores worldwide. Reportedly, as of early 2006, there were thousands of different Hello Kitty products available in over 40 countries around the world. Sanrio first introduced Hello Kitty in 1974, as an embellishment on a small coin purse sold by the company. Children, especially small girls, loved the cartoon and the cat became very popular. Keeping the character’s popularity in mind, Sanrio produced several Hello Kitty branded products, aimed at small girls and preteens over the late 1970s. However, during the 1980s, the growing popularity of other cartoon characters such as Doraemon (another cat) resulted in the Hello Kitty brand losing some of its appeal. Therefore, in the mid-1990s, Sanrio repositioned the brand to make it appealing to a wider age range of female customers. The repositioning was successful, and Hello Kitty regained its popularity. Over the years, Sanrio launched the Hello Kitty brand in various countries in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In Southeast Asia, analysts noted that girls showed almost a fanatical devotion to the brand. Apart from Southeast Asia, Hello Kitty was also hugely popular in the US—so popular that she was considered to be in the same league as cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, and Winnie the Pooh. Such was Hello Kitty’s popularity that she was chosen the UNICEF ambassador for the USA in 1983 and for Japan in 1994. By the early 2000s, however, Hello Kitty began facing brand fatigue in its domestic market, Japan. In 2002, Winnie the Pooh replaced Hello Kitty as the best-selling character among female consumers in Japan. This in turn had an impact on Sanrio as Hello Kitty was the company’s main brand and Japan its key market. In the early 2000s, Sanrio was trying to reposition the brand once again by associating it with jewelry and luxury products.

Shintaro Tsuji (Tsuji), the founder of Sanrio, was born in 1927 in the Yamanashi region of Japan. Tsuji was an engineering graduate, and worked for the Japanese government before resigning to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. Tsuji set up the Yamanashi Silk Center (YSC) in 1960, through which he sold silk goods like purses, slippers, etc.7 However, Tsuji did not find much success in this business initially. In 1962, Tsuji started selling a line of slippers that had the picture of a strawberry on them. These slippers went on to become a huge success and gave a boost to Tsuji’s struggling business. Tsuji realized then that consumers were more attracted to items that had been embellished with some design or character. He was later quoted as saying, “If you attach added value or design to the product, they sell in a completely different way.” After the success of the slippers Tsuji concentrated on developing designs and pictures that could be used to adorn his merchandise. In the meantime, he received a license from Charles Schulz to use the famous Snoopy character on his merchandise. Apart from this, Tsuji also began selling Hallmark greeting cards and Barbie dolls in Japan. However, these products did not find a good market in the country as Japanese consumers considered them to be too “western”.

Over a period of time, Tsuji recruited artists to develop characters that could be used to decorate items like key chains, cups, etc. By the end of the 1960s, he had put together an in-house creative team that was responsible for churning out new designs and characters. Tsuji’s intention was to take advantage of the Japanese custom of giving gifts. In Japan, people often exchange small and inexpensive gifts like key chains and other tokens. Even children like to exchange small gifts and small stationery items. Tsuji noted that there was a huge market for merchandise such as pencil boxes, small purses, etc., that young people could afford to buy. In 1973, Tsuji incorporated YSC as Sanrio Co. Ltd. The company adopted the motto “Small Gift, Big Smile, ” implying that a small gift could bring great joy to both the giver as well as the receiver, and that gifts were a form of expressing one’s feelings to another person. Sanrio focused on selling character-branded goods to young people. The company defined its main business as “social communication gift products” or small gifts that were exchanged socially. During the early 1970s, Tsuji and his creative team introduced various characters and designs for use on merchandise. Prominent among these were Patty and Jimmy (cartoon characters of a girl and a boy) and Hello Kitty, in 1974. Hello Kitty became an instant hit with children, who took a liking to the cute cat with the oversized head. Hello Kitty’s sales grew quickly, and this contributed to Sanrio’s success in the 1970s. Soon, Hello Kitty had become so popular that many companies started approaching Sanrio for permission to use the image. In 1976, Sanrio started licensing the Hello Kitty image to various companies for use on their merchandise. Over the years, Sanrio introduced several other popular characters like Chococat, Keroppi, Cinnamoroll, etc., but Hello Kitty remained its most successful character. The brand’s success made Sanrio one of the leading companies in the lucrative character branded goods market in Japan. Sanrio also made money by licensing its other cartoon characters to other companies in Japan and worldwide. Apart from marketing character branded goods, Sanrio also produced movies. In 1978, Tsuji received an Academy Award in the “best documentary film” category for the movie Who are the Debolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids? However, most of the company’s revenues still came from its “social communication businesses” or the sale of characterbranded merchandise. Over the years, Sanrio continued to introduce new cartoon characters at regular intervals while retiring some of the older characters. However, Hello Kitty remained the company’s main brand. (Reportedly, the Hello Kitty brand was providing almost half of Sanrio’s revenues by the early 2000s.) Sanrio opened an amusement park called Puroland in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990. In 1991, the company opened another amusement park called Harmonyland in Oita, Japan. Sanrio’s product range, which comprised mainly stationery items in the 1970s, was extended to a wide array of products including apparel and accessories by the early 2000s (Refer to Exhibit II for Sanrio’s major businesses in early 2006). Over the years, Sanrio launched its characters in various countries mainly through licensing. In 2006, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) inducted Tsuji into the Murray Altchuler Licensing Industry Hall of Fame. According to LIMA, Tsuji was recognized for his 30-year career in the licensing industry, during which time he had built up Hello Kitty into a “global licensing phenomenon”. Although Sanrio expanded its overseas market over the years, Japan remained its key market throughout. Tsuji was considered to be the equivalent of Walt Disney in Japan because of the success achieved by Sanrio’s characters in the country and around the world. As of early 2006, Sanrio sold its products in more than 40 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Hello Kitty Through the Years
During the early 1970s, Sanrio carried out a consumer survey which revealed that the most popular cartoon characters in Japan were those of dogs, bears, and cats. Accordingly, the company asked its creative team to develop new characters based on these animals. In 1974, Shimizu Yuko (Shimizu), one of the designers who mainly designed wallets for the company, created several characters including designs for a cat, a dog, and a bear. The design of the cat character was interesting in that it had an oversized round face with two dots as eyes, a button nose, and no mouth. It also had six whiskers and a red bow on its left ear. The cat, like most other cartoon characters, sat in a human-like posture. One of the most striking features of this cat, however, was that its face was completely expressionless (Refer to Exhibit IV for a picture of the first Hello Kitty design). Sanrio first used the cat (which had no name at the time) to decorate a coin purse, which it sold along with other wallets in 1974. Over time, Sanrio observed that the purses featuring the cat were selling better than the others. To make the most of the cat’s popularity, the company decided to give it a solo launch in 1975. Sanrio named the character “Hello Kitty”, and began selling toys, stationery items, and other small gift articles with pictures of Hello Kitty. Explaining the rationale behind the name, Bill Hensley (Hensley), marketing director, Sanrio’s US business, Sanrio Inc.13 said, “Gift-giving is an important part of the Japanese culture. In Japan, ‘Hello’ communicates the idea of open communication. That’s why she was named Hello Kitty.”14 Tsuji initially targeted the Hello Kitty merchandise at girls aged between 4 and 6. The goods were priced low so that they could be bought by the target consumers.

Hello Kitty became an instant hit with small girls because of her “cuteness”. As a result, Hello Kitty merchandise began selling well in the market. The fact that the merchandise was priced affordably added to its success. Hello Kitty’s popularity continued to increase throughout the 1970s. Meanwhile, Sanrio launched Hello Kitty and other characters in the US. Here too, the company noticed that Hello Kitty was more popular than its other Sanrio counterparts. However, in the 1980s, Hello Kitty began losing its cachet in Japan, due to the growing popularity of new anime15 characters such as Doraemon. Anime continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, not only in Japan, but also in other countries (Mainly in Southeast Asia and North America). In the mid-1980s, Sanrio recruited a new designer, Yamaguchi Yuko (Yamaguchi). Yamaguchi was believed to be responsible for extending the Hello Kitty brand to a wide array of items including candy, accessories, clothes, and electronic goods. By this time, Sanrio had begun efforts to make the Hello Kitty brand more attractive to teenaged girls (going beyond its traditional market of small girls) in a bid to revive the fading brand. Reportedly, Sanrio got the idea after a high-school girl wrote a letter to the company in 1986 complaining that it did not produce products for girls of her age. After this, Yamaguchi visited various shops in Japan to find out what customers expected from Hello Kitty. She realized that although the company had positioned Hello Kitty as a character for small girls, the brand’s appeal went far beyond the original target market. Consequently, she convinced the company to take steps to make Hello Kitty acceptable to diverse age groups. She even introduced a sober black and white Hello Kitty design in order to attract older consumers. However, in spite of these efforts, Sanrio was not very successful in reviving the brand. Hello Kitty got a fresh lease of life in the mid-1990s, after Sanrio managed to successfully change the positioning of the brand. This period was called the “Kitty boom” by some industry observers. In 1996, Yamaguchi designed “hip” products like Hello Kitty mobile phone cases, etc., targeted at high-school girls. These products were popular, and sold well. Some analysts, however, believed that Hello Kitty’s revival during this time was the result of several factors, and could not be completely credited to Sanrio. They believed that Hello Kitty experienced a sudden rise in popularity due to the voluntary endorsement of the brand by Tomomi Kahara (Kahara), a young Japanese singer, in the mid-1990s. Kahara, who was very popular with high school girls, proclaimed herself to be a big fan of Hello Kitty, and sported a variety of Hello Kitty products during her public appearances. Said Takahashi Ko (Ko), marketing executive at Sanrio, “Kitty experienced the greatest rise in popularity since her creation thanks to pop singer Kahara Tomomi. She went on the highly rated TV program —Utaban and told the hosts that she loved Kitty-chan more than anything. Within days sales in our outlets had nearly doubled.” Analysts also attributed the popularity of Hello Kitty among teenaged girls in Japan to another fad prevalent in Japan during the mid-1990s — Print Club kiosks18. These kiosks were mainly used by female consumers aged between 13 and 28. Sanrio, spotting a business opportunity, set up Print Club kiosks in its shops. According to the company, young girls who were waiting to use a kiosk browsed around the shop and bought Hello Kitty merchandise.

Another reason for Hello Kitty’s revival, according to industry observers, was that young women who had been fans of Hello Kitty in their childhood continued to buy the brand even after they grew up. It was noted that women liked to decorate their office desks with Hello Kitty merchandise. Further, young mothers were buying merchandise for themselves (like toasters, hair curlers, etc.) as well as their children, and Hello Kitty had, by the early 2000s, become a brand that attracted female consumers in the age group of 4 to 30. Interestingly, a “Kitty boom” occurred outside Japan too at this time. During the 1990s, Hello Kitty had become hugely popular in the US and some Southeast Asian countries. Apparently, Hello Kitty’s popularity among celebrities was not restricted to Japan. The brand became a favorite with many celebrities in other Asian and western countries, especially in the US, during the late 1990s. Reportedly, celebrities in the US like singer Christina Aguilera, musician and TV personality Lisa Loeb (Loeb), supermodel Tyra Banks, and singer Mariah Carey (Carey) were big fans of Hello Kitty. Carey made headlines when she showed off her Hello Kitty hair dryer and boom box19 while appearing in an episode of a popular television show, MTV Cribs, in the early 2000s. Loeb, a popular singer in the US, even dedicated an album to Hello Kitty. The album was aptly titled Hello Lisa.20 Many celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Mandy Moore, Heidi Klum, Carmen Elektra, Nicky Hilton, Ashley Judd, Madonna, and others posed for fashion magazines dressed in outfits with pictures of Hello Kitty and accessories (Refer to Exhibit VI for pictures of celebrities with the Hello Kitty brand). Becoming a “Hollywood favorite” helped Hello Kitty gain visibility worldwide. Sanrio also acted quickly to make the most of this popularity. During the “Kitty boom” the company entered into several licensing agreements and brought out a host of Hello Kitty products. It licensed Hello Kitty for varied products targeted at different consumer groups. While on the one hand, Hello Kitty was featured on small items like pencil boxes for small girls and accessories for highschool girls, there was also a Hello Kitty car targeted at young women. Thanks to voluntary endorsements by celebrities, Hello Kitty had become a fashion symbol by the early 2000s. This allowed Hello Kitty to gain acceptance as a “premium brand” even though the brand was still used by Sanrio and other companies (under license) for small stationery items like pencils and sharpeners. In the early 2000s, the Hello Kitty brand had reached near saturation point in traditional products. Therefore, Sanrio looked for tie-ups with high-end luxury items. The fact that it was voluntarily endorsed by celebrities helped Hello Kitty’s new positioning as a luxury brand. In April 2003, the Hello Kitty brand was used by Heatherette, a fashion label in the US, for its Spring/Summer 2003 collection. Designers Richie Rich and Traver Rains launched a new line of clothing featuring exclusive Hello Kitty designs. Swarovski21 offered a range of Hello Kitty merchandise like watches, jewelry, charms for mobile phones, etc. By this time, there were collectors of unique Hello Kitty merchandise. The items ranged from high-end products like a Hello Kitty watch by Swarovski to limited edition dolls like the Hello Kitty wedding collection by Sanrio. In November 2004, Hello Kitty completed 30 years. It was interesting to note that organizations other than Sanrio were also keen to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 30th “birthday”. For example, the Japan Mint produced 200,000 commemorative coin sets to commemorate the anniversary. Another Japanese company, Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo KK, made 12 solid platinum statues worth $30,000 each, and sold all 12.

Sanrio’s Licensing of Hello Kitty
According to analysts, Sanrio’s decision to put Hello Kitty on a wide variety of products was largely responsible for keeping the brand in the public eye for more than three decades. After featuring the cat on a coin purse in 1975, Sanrio had, over the years, branched out to include several other items under the Hello Kitty brand. Analysts commented that Sanrio had put Hello Kitty on practically everything. Only Hello Kitty featured on items ranging from vacuum cleaners to DVD players, toilet paper to cars and computers to candy. Said Bruce Guiliano (Guiliano), senior vice president of licensing, Sanrio Inc., “In Japan, it’s possible to have your entire house decorated and fixturized in Hello Kitty…. There’s even a Hello Kitty dishwasher.” Sanrio was able to feature Hello Kitty on a variety of products through its licensing agreements with companies. For instance, in Japan, toymakers like Takara Co. Ltd. and Bandai Co. Ltd. (Bandai) produced Hello Kitty toys under license from Sanrio. Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. Ltd. (Matsushita) had the license to make Hello Kitty toasters. Mitsubishi Motor Corp. (Mitsubishi)26 created a prototype “champagne pink” Hello Kitty minicar in 2006. Sanrio also offered Hello Kitty video games and mobile games in association with gaming companies. For instance, in 2006, Sanrio and MOffy, a Hong-Kong based mobile games developer, launched a series of mobile games called Hello Kitty Saves the Beach, Hello Kitty Magic Block, Hello Kitty Amazing Circus, and Hello Kitty Joyful Balloon. It was also through licensing that Sanrio was able to extend the Hello Kitty brand to luxury products. For instance, Daiwa Resort Co. Ltd., a popular hotel chain in Japan, offered Hello Kitty-themed suites to its customers under license from Sanrio. Tarina Tarantino (Tarantino), a famous designer in the US, launched a new line of jewelry called the “Hello Kitty Pink Head Collection” under license from Sanrio. In addition to licensing out the brand, Sanrio also introduced new items of its own every year. (Reportedly, 90% of the creative design team at Sanrio’s headquarters were women. According to some analysts, this went in favor of the company as the designers understood the needs and preferences of the target market well.) Sanrio replaced old Hello Kitty branded merchandise in shops with new items every six months. This kept the merchandise trendy and relevant. Sanrio’s amusement parks Puroland and Harmonyland were “Kittythemed”, and they even offered Hello Kitty-theme weddings. By the early 2000s, Sanrio was introducing close to 100 new designs of Hello Kitty products per month, worldwide. Even though the Hello Kitty brand was used on a range of items, Sanrio took measures to protect the brand’s image from being sullied. For example, Sanrio did not permit companies to use the Hello Kitty brand for three categories of products—alcohol, firearms, and tobacco. Reportedly, Sanrio spent ¥1.5 bn every year on measures against unauthorized copying to control its charactergoods business. It was also worth noting that Sanrio used minimal advertising to promote Hello Kitty. The advertising mostly consisted of print and online advertising, which was primarily created in-house. The company believed that word-of-mouth was more powerful than promoting the product in the media through TV advertisements, movie tie-ins, etc. Said Hensley, “The publicity feeds word-of-mouth better than advertising does, and that word-of-mouth is really what drives the Sanrio experience.” Sanrio, unlike other cartoon companies, did not produce Hello Kitty based comic strips, movies, or TV shows on a regular basis. However, Sanrio actively participated in co-branding and other promotional programs. For instance, in 1999, Sanrio entered into a marketing tie-up with McDonald’s in Taiwan. As a part of the promotional program, McDonald’s gave away a limited edition of Hello Kitty wedding collection dolls with every “Happy Meal”. The campaign was so successful that it led to stampedes and fights among consumers. Reportedly, many fans purchased Happy Meals only to throw them away while keeping the dolls. The limited edition dolls were later sold for thousands of dollars as collectors’ items. In 2005, Sanrio permitted Eva Air, a Taiwanese airline, to decorate some of its aircraft in the Hello Kitty theme. It was said that these flights were booked more than 90% on an average. The carrier also did brisk business in Hello Kitty branded dutyfree goods. In the US, Sanrio worked with some retailers to develop products that met their specific requirements. For instance, Target, a USbased retailer, carried an exclusive line of Hello Kitty merchandise such as party invitations, small inflatable chairs, etc. Target even had a special Hello Kitty princess costume consisting of a Kitty-themed dress, wand, footwear, etc. By the early 2000s, the Hello Kitty was recognized in more than 40 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Hello Kitty was believed to be one of the most successful commercial images in the world.

What Made Hello Kitty Click?

Over the years, experts have tried to analyze the reasons for Hello Kitty’s extraordinary popularity worldwide. They were puzzled as to why only Hello Kitty, from among the many other characters created by Sanrio, clicked in the market. They have tried to discover the reasons that made Hello Kitty the “Queen of cute” for many female consumers worldwide. Many analysts attributed Hello Kitty’s success in Japan to the prevalence of the Kawaii culture in the country. The Japanese, regardless of their age, were known to have a passion for “cute” objects. For instance, it was considered normal for grown women in Japan to be seen with mobile phone cases that were adorned with cartoon characters, or for banks to print check books with pictures of cartoons. The postal department issued stamps featuring popular cartoon characters, and it was said that even the local police departments in Japan had cute-looking mascots. The Kawaii culture began to gain prominence in Japan during the 1970s, and persisted through the 1980s and 1990s. It helped that Hello Kitty came into existence at a time when the Kawaii culture was at a high in the country. Because of this, it was widely believed that Hello Kitty had become an icon of “cute” for the Japanese. Another reason for Hello Kitty’s success was considered to be its design. It was generally believed that the simplicity of the character’s design appealed to consumers. The Hello Kitty design consisted of simple lines and very little detail. Besides, the design was kept unchanged over the thirty years of its existence. While other cartoon characters had evolved over time, Hello Kitty remained almost the same. For instance, when Mickey Mouse was first introduced, he looked like a rat. However, over time, Disney “toned down” the look to make him more likeable to children. The only major change in the design of Hello Kitty was made in 1993 when Sanrio replaced the cat’s bow with a flower. Later on, the company began selling Hello Kitty designs that had either a flower or a bow. (The bow, however, remained the favorite.) It was interesting to note that Hello Kitty’s “look”, however, changed with the times although the basic design remained the same. The change in looks was initiated by Yamaguchi in the mid1980s after she had spent time with customers at various Sanrio shops to find out what they expected from Hello Kitty. Yamaguchi found out that consumers wanted to see Hello Kitty in a variety of costumes. Based on this feedback, over the years Yamaguchi dressed Hello Kitty up as a bride, a nurse, a teacher, and a rock star, among others. She also introduced the character in various postures — standing, playing the piano, etc. According to many analysts, children and adults alike were fascinated with the different looks sported by Hello Kitty. In Japan, Sanrio introduced close to 200 “localized” Hello Kitty dolls by 2003. The company introduced localized Hello Kitty for every region and major city in Japan, and this represented the region’s specialty. Some examples were those of Hello Kitty peeking out of a cabbage in Gunma and one dressed like Momotaro, a legendary character belonging to the region, for the Okayama region. Unlike other cartoon characters that were originally developed for cartoon strips, TV shows, etc., and later used on merchandise, Sanrio developed Hello Kitty purely for its merchandise. Although Sanrio did release some Hello Kitty movies, comic strips, and video games, it was done only after the character had already been established in the public eye. Many also noted that Sanrio, unlike other companies, did not develop Hello Kitty’s character traits. For instance, children could easily distinguish between the nature and personality traits of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck or Winnie the Pooh. The characters were generally developed with the help of TV shows and movies. Hello Kitty, in contrast, was a “mysterious” cat. Although Sanrio’s website did give a brief biography of Hello Kitty, her family, and friends, it did not make an attempt to communicate it aggressively to the consumers (Refer to Exhibit VIII for the biography of Hello Kitty). According to the company this was done deliberately. “We work very hard to avoid things that would define the character. All of Sanrio’s characters are very minimalist,” said Giuliano. Much was also made of Hello Kitty’s lack of a mouth. Some people opined that Hello Kitty’s lack of a mouth (which implied that she could not speak) appeared to be more ‘Zen-like’ to the consumers. “This Zen-like technique, intentionally or not, has allowed Kitty to become at once the princess of purity to toddlers, a cuddly playmate for young girls, and a walk down memory lane for adults yearning for another taste of childhood,” said Ken Belson and Brian Bremner, authors of Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon.  Further, the lack of a mouth also gave Hello Kitty an emotionless face, in stark contrast to the faces of other cartoon characters, which were very expressive. Some people believed that the emotionless face allowed consumers to project their own emotions onto Hello Kitty. Said Nakajima Seiji, a Sanrio employee, “Without the mouth it is easier to imagine (that) Kitty-chan shares whatever feeling you have at that moment. If Kitty-chan was smiling all the time, and you’d just broken up with your boyfriend or something and were very sad, the last thing you’d want to look at was a grinning Hello Kitty. Without a mouth you can imagine she is sad with you.” Some analysts, however, attributed Hello Kitty’s rise to popularity to just plain luck. According to them, Hello Kitty had gathered a huge fan following thanks largely to the proclamations of certain celebrities that they were Kitty’s fans. For instance, Tarantino, a famous designer in the US, was quoted as saying, “She’s so sweet, it just radiates from her cute little face.” She, along with a host of other celebrities, created unique Hello Kitty items while celebrating the 30th ‘birthday’ of Hello Kitty in November 2004. On the Hello Kitty craze among celebrities, one executive at Sanrio commented, “Our characters are all intended to look cute. But these people seem to think of Hello Kitty as something ‘cool’ and we haven’t exactly figured out why. Kitty wouldn’t be cool if we meant her that way.” However, according to Hensley, “Kitty appeals because she’s really cute and we create functional stuff with a fun design. We listen to what’s going on in the customer’s lifestyle and make things with Hello Kitty. So whether it’s a teenage girl going to the prom or Tyra Banks going to the MTV Awards, she can carry that fun Hello Kitty sequin purse.”

Is Hello Kitty Losing Her Charm?
Even though Hello Kitty was still among the top-selling brands in Japan as of early 2006, the avenues for future growth seemed limited. The increasing popularity of Winnie the Pooh among female consumers prompted analysts to say that Hello Kitty’s cachet was at risk in Japan. Analysts noted that Sanrio had succeeded in reviving the brand in the 1990s by repositioning Hello Kitty to make her appealing to a larger number of people. However, they were doubtful if the company could pull off the same trick a second time. There were several reasons for this. Hello Kitty had already been placed on a wide range of items and there were few new items left. Further, a demographic shift was taking place in Japan, with the number of young people decreasing over the years owing to low birth rates. This in turn limited sales as Sanrio’s target consumers were young people. Also, as the character-goods business in Japan had its roots in the Kawaii culture, brands like Hello Kitty and others were expected to lose their appeal once the culture died out in the country. Apart from these problems, analysts also opined that Sanrio could soon face succession problems. Tsuji, who was largely acknowledged to be the driving force behind the company’s growth, had turned 78 in 2005, and it was thought that his eventual exit would create a leadership vacuum in Sanrio. According to analysts, Sanrio’s financial performance was also likely to suffer as a result of Hello Kitty’s decreasing popularity. This was because the brand contributed almost half of the company’s revenues. “It’s needless to say that Kitty is Sanrio’s most powerful product, their fortune,” said Kazuo Rikukawa, president, Character Databank. Adding to Sanrio’s woes was the fact that it had been making losses in the amusement park business and was relying heavily on its social communication business.

Sanrio had been increasingly focusing on the overseas market to improve the revenues from the Hello Kitty brand. “In Japan, Hello Kitty is a mature brand, even though it has seen substantial growth over the years,” said Hensley. He also said, “Our biggest market for her is still Japan and Southeast Asia, but our big push going forward is the Western hemisphere, primarily the US market.” Sanrio also appointed Mas Imai, a former Disney executive, as president and chief operating officer of Sanrio Inc. in 2005 in order to lead Sanrio’s US operations. Sanrio continued with its licensing strategy, bringing out a variety of Hello Kitty products like a guitar, a credit card, etc., in the US. In October 2004, the company started offering co-branded debit cards in association with MasterCard Inc. targeted at girls aged between 10 and 14. In the same month, it entered into an agreement with Nokia, a major mobile phone manufacturer, and Cingular Wireless, a service provider to offer Hello Kitty mobile phones. In 2006, Sanrio and Fender Musical Instruments Corp. launched a guitar called “Hello Kitty Stratocaster”. The guitar was priced at $229 and was sold on the company’s website and at participating Sanrio boutiques in the US.

By 2005-06, Hello Kitty was undergoing another image overhaul in a bid to attract older consumers. As of early 2006, the Hello Kitty brand was used on a variety of luxury goods that were available at high-end retailers like Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc., in the US. Sanrio’s target customers for Hello Kitty in the US mainly consisted of Asian and Hispanic consumers. But in 2005-06 Sanrio was trying to target female consumers belonging to all age groups, and all ethnic and cultural groups. Said Giuliano, “Hello Kitty is finding increasing acceptance as (a) symbolic icon of feminine style and taste.” However, it remained to be seen whether Sanrio’s extensive licensing of the Hello Kitty brand would add to the brand’s value or dilute it.

SS George Director, The Icfai Center for Management Research (ICMR), Hyderabad. The author can be reached at Shirisha Regani Faculty Associate, The Icfai Center for Management Research (ICMR), Hyderabad. The author can be reached at Smitha Moganty Former Research Associate, The Icfai Center for Management Research (ICMR), Hyderabad.

70 June 2007
6/1/2007, 4:30 PM
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Examples of FAKE Sanrio Items

Ok, newbies, let me remind you again.

This sticker below really looks like it's made from Sanrio, but it isn't. I purchased it years ago from a sanrio collector and the backing comes from those printer blank white sticker paper that you buy at an office supply store. You can view it here. It's made by a fan and NOT worth your hard earned money.


Once you are familiar with sanrio products, it will be very easy to differentiate which is an authentic Sanrio product and which is fake. Below are examples of fake items. Really simple plain products with stickers pasted on items like these just give me mind boggling questions as to why anyone would waste their time selling fakes on e-bay? Surely, there is no stupid Sanrio Hello Kitty fan out there who'd buy these below.

Don't be fooled. Remember this e-bay seller

Another e-bay seller.