The house of Hello Kitty has opened a dedicated consumer products division to widen its signature property’s footprint in terms of on-brand product development and international distribution. Heading up the effort as president is former MGA Entertainment SVP Janet Hsu. The new unit doesn’t necessarily mark a change in strategy so much as an improvement in operational structure, says Hsu.
‘Globalization has always been part of Sanrio,’ she explains. ‘But, now we have the synergistic structure in place to drive it.’ Her international approach will be to build relationships with specific retailers and licensees that understand Sanrio’s brands and the company’s vision, rather than simply blitzing untapped regions with product. ‘This strategy will eventually drive deeper licensing programs,’ she explains. Helping Hsu forge these relationships is Roberto Lanzi as president of consumer products for EMEA.
To give its licensing programs maximum brand exposure in global markets, Hsu will also work towards translating Hello Kitty and other Sanrio IP into entertainment vehicles for other platforms. Rounding out its portfolio are four iconic characters that share Hello Kitty’s aesthetic to varying degrees: there’s Chococat, mischievous penguin Badtz-Maru, sweet fawn Deery-Lou and hooded bunny My Melody.