Hello Kitty - Fictional Character Turns Global Phenomenon

When the Japanese company Sanrio first introduced Hello Kitty to the local market in 1974, they had no inkling of just how popular the cute little figure would become worldwide. The little Japanese bobtail cat with a prominent red bow on her head is now the face of a business that pulls in more than a billion US dollars every year.

Sanrio first put Hello Kitty on a vinyl purse that became a best seller. Pretty soon, the iconic figure, which reached the United States in 1976, was to be found on a huge range of merchandise including dolls, stickers, clothes and even greeting cards. Hello Kitty accessories are extremely popular with little girls and teenagers, especially on school supplies such as stationery, back packs, lunch boxes and water bottles. You can even get to see this figure on the most unlikely things such as home appliances, including toasters, and also on musical instruments. Sanrio and Fender collaborated to make a serious of guitars called the Hello Kitty Stratocaster. In keeping with changing requirements, you can also buy Hello Kitty iPod cases and CD players.

Hello Kitty has always been popular in Asian countries, especially in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. There are Hello Kitty themed restaurants in these places that are popular with adults and not just with youngsters. Her popularity has been waning in Japan, however, due to the increasing popularity of other characters such as Pokmon.

Hello Kitty got a boost of popularity in the United States when Mariah Carey, an A list star, decided to adopt her as a fashion accessory. Designers such as Kimora Lee Simmons were quick to cash in on this phenomenon by designing jewelry and accessories around her, which turned out to be a very wise decision. In keeping with the times, Hello Kitty has also appeared in various video and anime productions. There are also video games around this theme that are extremely popular, but only in Japan. The popularity of this character was so great that her manufacturers even gave her an identical twin sister called Mimmy.

This iconic little cat has not been without controversies as well. In 2004 Mastercard introduced a Hello Kitty prepaid debit card was targeted at young customers. This drew a lot of criticism from various sections of society because the card was perceived as encouraging young children and preteens to do conspicuous expenditure. The fees associated with the card were also deemed to be too high. There are also people who cannot stand the sight of this cat, and complain bitterly that it is very difficult to avoid seeing her.

Analysts have not been able to attribute her popularity to anything but the fact that that she appeared in the popular consciousness at the right time. It would be interesting to see for how long she will be able to maintain her position. Until then, people who want to can download Hello Kitty images and such for their computers, cell phones and profiles on popular social networking websites.

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