'Hello Kitty': A Japanese Superbrand

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG143 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 1974-2006
Organization : Sanrio Co. Ltd.
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : Japan and the US
Industry : Diversified


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.


To trace the evolution and growth of a hugely popular global brand.

To understand the strategies companies adopt to revive and reinvent brands.

To examine the role of celebrity endorsements in creating brand value.

To analyze the role of licensing in extending a brand.

To study the role of co-branding in branded-goods market.

To examine the pitfalls involved in over-extending a brand, and to analyze whether a brand with a primarily juvenile image can be extended successfully to luxury products.


  Page No.
Hello Kitty Goes Luxe 2
Background 3
Hello Kitty through the Years 4
Sanrio's Licensing of Hello Kitty 7
What made Hello Kitty click? 9
Is Hello Kitty losing her charm? 10
Exhibits 11


Japanese brand, Hello Kitty, Sanrio Co Ltd., Merchandising, Cartoon characters, Shintaro Tsuji, Yamanashi Silk Center, Licensing, Character branded goods market, Kitty boom, Premium brand, Brand extension, Celebrity endorsements, Co-branding, Brand revival

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