Zhengzhen Ma(z3325090) -Post 3

This week’s topic is about cuteness in Japanese business.The cute staff is almost around everywhere in Tokyo of Japan such as the advertisement banners on the subway, digital display screens,Japanese comics and fashion magazines.Many companies, large and small, use cute mascots to present their products and services to the public.

The cute element, which is called “kawaii” in Japanese, is not only a marketing strategy but also has a significant impact on its culture and social and gender roles, particularly those of young Japanese women. Additionally, cute isn’t just a fashion statement like pink lipstick, butterfly hair bands, and pastel colors. It also extends beyond consumerism  to be a cultural statement–a mode of behavior. Cute girls often act silly, , pout and stamp their feet when they’re angry. Due to  growing trend of cute elements, companies such Sanrio came out with merchandise like Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty was an immediate success and the obsession with cute continued to progress in other areas as well. In 1980s, there has been a  rise in cute idols, such as Seiko Matsuda, who greatly believed it would popularize the trend. Women began to emulate Seiko Matsuda and her cute fashion style and mannerisms, which emphasized the helplessness and innocence of young girls.The market for cute merchandise in Japan is driven by Japanese girls between 15 and 18 years old.

No longer limited to teenagers, however, the spread of making things as cute as possible, even common household items, was adopted by people of all ages. Now there are airplanes painted with Pokemon characters on the side, and each of Japan’s 47 prefectures, the Tokyo police, and even the public broadcaster NHK all have their own cute mascots. Currently, Sanrio’s line of more than 50 characters takes in more than $1 billion a year and it remains the most successful company to capitalize on the cute trend.

Kawaii products are seemingly gaining more popularity beyond the borders of Japan into other Asian markets and it’s seemingly becoming more popular in the US, especially among the young anime and manga fans as well as among those who are influenced by the Japanese culture. Thus, cute will continue to be a global phenomenon.

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