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Q: 'HELLO KITTY" APPEAL ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: yesmam-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 27 Nov 2003 18:55 PST
Expires: 27 Dec 2003 18:55 PST
Question ID: 281259
This one really has me stumped. It was obvious when some one as
overproduced, slick and silly as Michael Jacksson came around and
preteens and other moronic members of society gave a hoot, and even
LIKED him. Britney Spears seams to be instructing young gals on how to
look like junior prostitutes, but the "HELLO KITTY" phenomenon really
has me puzzled. "HELLO KITTY," I know is a Japanese creation. What is
the meaning of this exagerated puddy cat with goofy big eyes supposed
to mean? Oh, don't worry, I don't sleep over this one, but am curious.
Thanks in anticipation of your help on this cultural institution.
ALSO, when can we say, "GOODBYE KITTY?"

Request for Question Clarification by leep-ga on 27 Nov 2003 19:37 PST
Are you looking for data on why people are attracted to Hello Kitty or
are you mainly interested in general information on why Hello Kitty

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 28 Nov 2003 06:51 PST
I can offer you one person's published opinion as to why Hello Kitty
has such an unusual appeal, if that would suffice.

Answered By: missy-ga on 28 Nov 2003 08:36 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Good morning!

Your question's title certainly got my attention! 

There are a number of theories about Kitty's appeal.  One magazine
speculates that her appeal lies in her resemblance to the traditional
Geisha.  Others attribute her popularity to her lack of mouth (and
thus lack of expression) - she can be whatever her owner wants her to
be.  Her creators at Sanrio don't know exactly why she's so popular,
but intimate that it may have to do with the "innocence" the brand

"[...] if Hello Kitty?s appeal lies anywhere, it is in her femininity.
Examine the iconography of our icon. Not only is she small and
button-featured, she is also colourless. Anyone who has ever strolled
the streets of night-time Kyoto will recognise the look at once. Ms
Kitty?s chalk-white face is that of a geisha, the idealised (by men at
least) form of Japanese womanhood.

Like a geisha, Hello Kitty?s ghostly pallor is intended to suggest an
inactive life, one spent indoors baking cakes or practicing pianos.
Small mouths, drawn on in lipstick, also count as desirable in the
world of geishas. The semiotic message they send out is one of small
voices, never to be raised in anything as vulgar as disagreement with
men. Hello Kitty trumps this demureness by having no mouth at all:
whether she is pleased or appalled at the idea of her forthcoming
marriage to Dear Daniel we will never know, for she has no way of
telling us. The inference is that ? she being a mere cat/female ? it
doesn?t matter anyway.

By being neutral, white and character-devoid, in other words, Ms Kitty
has managed to become all things to all men."

Hello Kitty$238

"Hello Kitty has exhibited appeal to a vast and differentiated global
youth culture. And the truth is that the folks at Sanrio, including
President Tsuji and his marketing team, can?t really give you a
comprehensive and credible reason as to why Hello Kitty worked, while
so many of its other characters have faded from the scene. What makes
Kitty so intriguing is that she projects entirely different meanings
depending on the consumer. Figuring out what makes brands click, how
they migrate across borders, has long been the Holy Grail for market

Sage Classic Book Review:  HELLO KITTY: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio
and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon by: Ken Belson & Brian
Bremner, Wiley 2003

"The cat has no mouth, and this represents a major source of emotional
association for buyers, as they can project many different feelings
onto the little cat. The owner and the cat can be happy, sad,
thoughtful or any other feeling they want to be together."

Hello Kitty:  Branding an idea and selling it to different segments

"It's simple. She's cute, exotic and a little mysterious. That's why
Kitty has lasted as long as she has, even though her biggest appeal is
to the most fickle of consumers -- little girls" said Richard
Lachmann, professor of sociology and an expert on popular culture with
the University of Albany.

"The word 'cute' is the most popular with every customer who walks
into the store, followed by 'Oh-my-god,'" said Huang."

Hello Kitty's a whisker away from 30

"Hello Kitty is purely targeted at girls. They form much stronger
emotional attachments from a young age, largely because their mothers
swaddle them in Hello Kitty pajamas and blankets.

Also, he said the character is just darn kawaii (Japanese for cute),
which is something Japanese females have long identified with and
aspired to be from childhood, as their culture puts a premium on
child-like innocence.

He added that, being only too aware of Hello Kitty's broad, nostalgic
appeal, Sanrio has steered clear of giving her any hint of
personality, so the biggest problem in her kindergarten world is
whether to have ice-cream or biscuits as a snack.

'But get really inside Sanrio and you will see just how very serious
they are in managing the brand on all levels. No sharp objects,
liquor, tobacco, drugs or sex products can have Hello Kitty on them.'

Any employee caught drunk-driving or embroiled in a sex scandal will
be fired on the spot."

Still Money In the Kitty,4386,219224,00.html

And for another data point:  I remember Hello Kitty's insane
popularity 20 years ago, when I was in 8th grade.  Like many girls at
that time, I loved Hello Kitty.  She was just...*cute*.  I still have
a fondness for Hello Kitty today - she evokes sweet and gentle
cheerfulness, which seems to be rare in today's world of loud angst,
and reminds me of a time when life seemed a lot simpler than it is
now.  (This may be part of why she's enjoyed something of a popularity
revival lately.  I know I'm not the only one with nostalgic affection
for Kitty-chan!)

Hope this helps!


Search terms:  [ "hello kitty" appeal ]
yesmam-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.50
Thank you Missy for elaborating the phenomenon of "Hello Kitty." We
are about 20 years different in age, so the Kitty trend went on during
an era when I was putting my adult life together.
The really interesting and thought provoking idea that I am thinking
about is that "Hello Kitty" is a striking pendulum swing away from the
second wave of feminism that started in the late sixties. An
idealization of Kitty's demure-
ness, passivity and lack of mouth (speach) is the antithesis of
another fictional figure of popularity from around the same
time,"Wonder Woman" who was a fighting, assertive and a symbol of
"liberation." (And, years later who knows what "liberation" really
Maybe, if I had children or had had a younger sister, Kitty's appeal
would have been easier to comprehend, but I do understand Kitty's
importance of representing a time when life was sweeter and easier.
Kitty never grows up and if she was ever to become a mature cat, she
surely would need to develop a mouth and to get by in todays's world,
that mouth better be a big one.
Thanks again for the really interesting answer. Meeeoowww.


From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Nov 2003 15:25 PST
Hello Kitty isn't just a girlie thing.

A couple of years ago my large, manly husband came home with a comfy
backrest pillow that he bought to use while he's lying on the sofa
reading. The pillow's back is a gigantic Hello Kitty head, and the
pillow's arms are her paws. The pillow is candy-pink in color, and is
made of velour.

I am proud to be married to a man who is so secure in his masculinity
that he would choose such a thing. It makes me smile to see Hello
Kitty's big puffy face sitting there on the sofa. Long live the Kitty.
From: cryptica-ga on 28 Nov 2003 16:46 PST
"Hello Kitty" isn't ALL that innocent.  There are "Hello Kitty"
VIBRATORS.  Or in more polite company, "Massagers."  Hard to find in
the U.S., but they show up on eBay.
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Nov 2003 18:14 PST
"Hello Kitty" vibrators??!!! Maybe that's what my husband was REALLY
thinking of when he bought that pink pillow...
From: missy-ga on 28 Nov 2003 21:33 PST
Cryptica!  What a naughty mind you have! <*grin*>

Kitty-chan shoulder massagers really aren't all that hard to get, and
they're less expensive than what shows up on eBay.  You just have to
know where to look:

Hello Kitty Shoulder Massager

Large photo here:

Yes, I know, they vibrate and they look phallic, but they're neither
manufactured nor marketed as sex toys, which is why they get to keep
their license from Sanrio.  Sanrio doesn't get to say what
the...ah..."end user" gets to do with them.

From: cryptica-ga on 02 Dec 2003 05:39 PST
Remember the frenzy from freaked out parents when those Harry Potter
vibrating Quidditch brooms came out?  They were taken off the market
VERY quickly.

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