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Influence of Hello Kitty on Japanese women identity Analytical Essay

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2019


For several decades now, art has influenced the social and economic life of people worldwide. Due to art, numerous animations have emerged, and thus aspect explains the origin and background of Hello Kitty, a Japanese animated cat stature that has received great public attention since its emergence back in the year 1974, in Japan. Hello Kitty has played a vital role in shaping the social and economic life of the Japanese people (McVeigh, 2000).

In economical view, the cartoon-looking cat has influenced the market strategies used by companies to promote their goods. For instance, the animated cat enhanced the marketing of debit cards invented by credit card companies by attracting customers that led to massive profits.

In shaping social life of the Japanese people, this bobtail cat has influence the living style of young women in Japan. However, it is not known to what extent the animated cat influences their identity. Hence, this essay seeks to establish how Hello Kitty Influences the structuring of Japanese women identity.

Origin of Hello Kitty in Japan

Hello Kitty is a Japanese bobtail cat that originated from the arts of a Japanese woman, Yuko Shimizu. Later on, a Japanese stationery company, Sanrio, introduced Kitty into the market.

The doll initially targeted the adolescent females, but got public attention, and elder females and children familiarised with it. Hello Kitty has shaped the fashion culture in Japan with numerous women liking it from its logos on products to body tattoos (Kovarovic, 2011). Although men as well like the doll, it is a women subculture in Japan and the outskirts.

The doll has received fame to the extent that it appears on a variety of products ranging from consumer products including school supplies, wallpapers, stickers, teddy bears, and toys, greeting cards to electronics including phone accessories, computer products, and televisions to outfits including clothes, female handbags, and even jewelleries.

The doll has also proven significant in enhancing companies’ promotional strategies; for instance, commercial companies, especially banks used Hello Kitty emblems to produce cheques, visa debit cards, and master cards.

The spread of Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty spread from local Japanese market to international boundaries, influencing the cultural and personal lifestyles of people across the globe. After its release into the Japanese market, the animated cat got public attention due to its appearance and penetrated across international boundaries into the United States in the year 1976.

As the cartooned cat become famous, its demand rose exponentially. It survived market competition and managed to conquer and replace some American popular cultures. It captured American women with its incredible colours and its entire appearance.

Kovarovic (2011) posits, “Consumerism in the US creates successful retail of Hello Kitty” (p.4). In fact, the youthfulness and cuteness of the cartoon attracted women of all ages, since old age in the US is associated with several negative aspects like becoming weak, unattractive, and lonely. The cat got a good reception in several other countries like Germany, Latin American, and Britain making changes in women of all ages.

The influence of Hello Kitty on Fashion and Design

Women appearance is normally their biggest concern. How they appear in the public eye is always their main worry, but Hello Kitty has significantly reduced their fret. The rise and fame of Hello Kitty penetrated the fashion and design industry from Japan to the heights of international borders.

Since it targeted adolescent females, the designs were contrived to target the same population. This led to the adoption of art by designers and integrating it into different attires ranging from clothing, bracelets, handbags, and beautiful tattoos designed around their bodies. The animated cat came in lovely colours including the most attractive pink colour, which women love most (Wai-ming, 2002).

Since the doll appeared as feminine, women wanted to mimic this appearance with most of them appearing in dresses with colours resembling those of Hello Kitty coupled with bracelets and handbags tattooed with its logo (Yano, 2009). Hello Kitty led to an advanced change in the Japanese women’s lifestyle ranging from cultural and economical to comparative perspectives.

Since the innovation of the exquisite Hello Kitty animated cat, several intricate designs have emerged making it seem equally important in the dressing and life style of women.

To begin with, Hello Kitty has appeared on several women likings including the dresses, shoes, handbags, jewellery, tops, and even body designs including tattooing (Rebecca, 2012). It appears in several dimensions and styles. The animated cat appears in the form of printed images, photos, dolls, or even logos. With the rising fame of Hello Kitty, the same way women want to get public attention.

The fashion and design companies ensured that the cat stature appeared in every new fashion and intricate designs. This triggered the appetite of women in dressing, forcing them to go round searching for popular branded Hello Kitty outfits. The animated cat significantly influenced the design companies outside Japan as it acquired extraordinary prominence in the United States, which is known for its influence in the international market.

Hello Kitty’s Influence in Women identity

The emergence of Hello Kitty portrays one important aspect of under contentment mostly found in several women, which influence the aspect of consumerism in the market. Generally, Hello Kitty changed the consumption level and trends in Japanese women (Yano, 2009). Consumerism and consumptions are two terms used to describe the tendency in which individuals use a certain product.

Influence is simply the ability to cause a change either positive or negative. According to Rebecca (2012), since its appearance into the global market in early 1970s, the consumption trend of Hello Kitty products has been on a constant rise. Since women are trendy, Hello Kitty served their psychological needs.

Their stylish desires contributed to an increase in consumption of Kitty’s products that appeared in different designed cuties and exotic appeals to trigger women’s level of the product consumerism (Yano, 2009). This consumerism factor influences the Japanese women identity. However, Hello Kitty influences the structure of these women through its consumption in several ways. These include the following:

Hello Kitty’s exotic appeal

Since its emergence in the Japanese as well as the global market, Hello Kitty comes in a variety of cuties and appeals. These cuties and appeals were very strong since 1970s to 1980s, when Hello Kitty was the most popular cartooned art in that era. Its beautiful appearance in attractive tints including the most preferred women colours like white and pink enhanced the use and consumption of Hello Kitty and its respective products.

Wai-ming (2002), observes that Japanese women, especially the young and adolescent ones, love exotic possessions especially those who have western qualities. Apart from the aspect of enthusing young females, the cartoon’s appearance takes the children and as well as the elderly in fantasies.

The children and the elderly like things that sooth their age as they hate being frustrated in their age. With the western identity, most female like associating themselves with Hello Kitty products. In short, the animated beautiful cat triggers women attention into emulating its qualities to bring out resemblance in appearance.

Merchandisation of Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty has survived market competition and antagonism for over thirty years. In fact, the animated cat has managed to manipulate the market and play in the monopolistic technique for several years.

This merchandisation enables Hello Kitty to dominate the local, regional, and global markets around the universe. Wai-ming (2002), posits, “The merchandisation of the Hello Kitty makes it a decorative, useful and collectable item” (p.16). Different items and products are decorated in Hello Kitty’s logos, photos, scanned images, and even simple drawings.

Products like school stationery including bags, books, pens, and pencils are decorated with Hello Kitty and other consumer goods like cutlery, handkerchiefs, women handbags, cosmetics, glasses, toasters, and electronics including mobile phone cases, CDs, DVD players, radio covers, computers accessories to even big commercial goods inclusive of bikes, cars, and aeroplanes.

The Kitty cartoon has also been significant in helping Japanese banks to promote their services by using Kitty logos and photos on the bank account books, credit cards, and even visa cards.

Global Reputation of Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty and its products have constantly gained international demand. Through global industrialisation, Hello Kitty received substantial global popularisation making it the most renowned cartoon art all over the globe. To begin with, Hello Kitty has appeared in several meaningful occasions including those that are associated with prominent persons within the globe.

According to Kovarovic (2011), the cartoon was once the most famous cartoon art used in the US. The cartoon has linked with several prominent states and leaders including the U.S. senate Byron Dorgan, who publicly displayed a one meter pre-paid debit card poster on the floor of the U.S. senate during the 2007-2010 financial crisis moments.

The cartooned cat got popularisation to Thailand and its borders as the national police officers were punished for the contravention made by putting on Hello Kitty armbands as a form of punishment. This global fame makes Japanese women love to associate with the cartoon.

Nature and culture of Japanese women

The Kitty mania got support from the nature and culture of the Japanese women who are generally trendy. In women, Hello Kitty manoeuvred through the potentiality of the Japanese women culture of falling in love with fancy materials. Popularly known as “Kawaii”, is the degree of cuteness describing the Japanese culture (Kelly, 1986).

This culture influences the shape in which manufactured materials like clothing, food, or even commercial goods appear. The culture greatly influences personal attributes and appearance. Wai-ming (2002) asserts that Japanese young women ranging from young teenage to adolescent and women in their late thirties are fond of liking fashion, and thus demonstrating their culture in products of every design.

The music and drama industries are characterised by the use of such cartoon to attract fans from several parts of Japan. According to the culture, this cuteness is equally expected in both males and females. Therefore, due to the existing culture, Hello Kitty penetrated through the Japanese culture making it acceptable to people of every gender and age.

Hello Kitty’s Literature

The emergence of Hello Kitty led to great advancement in women identity and appearance with the literature of the cartoon, thus enhancing its consumption.

The cartooned cat had several literatures produced in different forms. According to Moeran (2004), writers in Japan developed reading materials like funny storybooks of Hello Kitty, photo galleries, newspapers, and magazines. Kitty’s literature was also established in love and romantic magazines, which most female and lovers became attracted to read. The literatures of Kitty products and goods diversified across e-resources like the Internet, which came in the form of kid games and relationship sites.

Moeran (2004) asserts, “Women’s fashion magazines have for many years depicted in their pages European and American fashion designers of which Hello Kitty was been on regularly appearance” (p.56) indicating how women can shape their fashion and designs. Games of Kitty image seem attractive with romantic decors that trigger women into expanding their consumption on Kitty’s products.

Sanrio’s Company Efforts

Sanrio, the initiator and producing company of several Kitty products has adversely influenced how women and Hello Kitty relate. Sanrio ensured a positive relationship between the cartoon and customers, thus enhancing loyalty amongst consumers. Sun (2009) states, “This brand owns a group of loyal customers and so this Japanese company, Sanrio, receives wide support from those young women in Japan who prefer prettiness” (p.66).

The company ensured that it enhanced corroborative techniques to substantiate with other companies that were wiling to design and improve products produced by Sanrio, the main company. The extension of Hello Kitty’s market into the United States was successful through Sanrio’s efforts.

In fact, the company ensured that it produced goods that are friendly to most females to flavour the availability market influence of Hello Kitty. According to Sun (2009), the design around the image of Hello Kitty motivated the sense of concern and protection of these women.

Music and Decors

Music is a favourite element of almost everyone across the globe, with the taste depending on individual interest. Hello Kitty managed to capture the interest of several musicians who used the cartoon in their videos and live performance. Prominent musicians including Japanese culture musicians like Palmer and Yarckin used the cartoon in creating their popular Japanese cultural music like J-pop music and others.

Since women love associating themselves with prominent people like music celebrities, this aspect played a significant role in influencing the consumption of Hello Kitty products. The Kitty products like band got prominence even in the late 1990s, as popular American artists like Marian Carey adopted Hello Kitty among their fashions.

According to Rebecca (2012), musicians used the arts of the cartoon on nail decorations, which led other Japanese women to adopt the art. Rebecca (2012) asserts, “Nail art lessons in magazines include “tribal” designs and often touch upon the ‘ethnic’ aesthetic” (p. 122). Women love music just as men do. Therefore, as their music icons used Kitty products so do they got attracted.

Television series and programs

Since time immemorial, media has been very influential to Japanese women’s culture and personalities. Several media techniques are used to pass messages regarding new products and fashions that are currently dominating the market. Hello Kitty was popular in Japanese media, which also played a significant role in spreading the Japanese culture.

In this sense, TVs play an important role in spreading media information (Yano, 2009). Several television programs demonstrated Hello Kitty products that helped it obtain extensive fame. Wai-ming (2002) posits, “Compared with Japanese television dramas, fashions, movies, or J-pop, Japanese fancy merchandise like Hello Kitty is more subtle in conveying Japanese ideas and values” (p.16). Superstars acted programs that ran through the TVs and women want to associate with famous actors.

There were video games, karaoke, and music programs that demonstrated Hello Kitty products, which were on popular demand. This element influenced the structuring of women to greater heights. By 1970s and 1990s, several Japanese programs were thrilling and captured several viewers.


Hello Kitty, the popular animated bobtail cat that dominated the Japanese social, economical, and even the psychological lives played a considerable role in structuring of Japanese women identify. McVeigh (2000) assert that Hello Kitty appeared in different ways enabling it to dominate the Japanese market.

Due its global fame, variance in product supplies, and its cuteness, Hello Kitty managed to lure women into acquiring its products of which were mostly attractive, enthusing, and available in cheap goods, which were quite affordable to women.

The company Sanrio, Japanese media, Japanese women culture, and global market trends enabled Hello Kitty products to penetrate easily into the market with women admiring the arts done by musicians, dramatists, and actors regarding Hello Kitty. Japanese women admired Hello Kitty in different ways including the appearance and colour.


Kelly, W. (1986). Rationalisation and Nostalgia: Cultural Dynamics of New Middle-Class Japan. American Ethnologist, 13(4), 603-618.

Kovarovic, S. (2011). Hello Kitty: A Brand Made of Cuteness. Web.

McVeigh, B.J. (2000). How Hello Kitty Commodifies the Cute, Cool and Camp: ‘Consumutopia’ versus ‘Control’ in Japan. Journal of Material Culture, 5(2), 225-245.

Moeran, B. (2004). Soft Sell, Hard Cash: Marketing J-Cult in Asia. Copenhagen: CBS.

Rebecca, S. (2012). Nailed it: Producing and Consuming in Tokyo’s Nail industry. Journal of Street Notes, 20,111-133.

Sun, S. (2009). An Analysis on the Conditions and Methods of Market Segmentation. International Journal of Business and Management, 4(2), 63-70.

Wai-ming, B. (2002). . Web.

Yano, C.R. (2009). Wink on Pink: Interpreting Japanese Cute as it Grabs the Global Headlines. The Journal of Asian Studies, 68(3), 681-688.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Influence of Hello Kitty on Japanese women identity." August 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/influence-of-hello-kitty-on-japanese-women-identity/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Influence of Hello Kitty on Japanese women identity'. 7 August.

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