Hello Kitty as an Example of How Cuteness Contributes to Consumer Culture: Essay

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In modern societies, artists or manufacturers use elements of cuteness that are pleasing to create mass consumption. Merchandise that is worth millions and is sold across the world is partly due to its appeal of being ‘cute’. In this case, a recognizable animated character, Hello Kitty, is famous for representing what is known to be cute. Cuteness is an aesthetic category that uses its elements to create mass consumer culture and attract consumers. The cute aesthetic of Hello Kitty has enforced it to become a mass commodity to which individuals have an effective response.

According to Sierra Ngai’s, ‘The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde’, cuteness has become an aesthetic response to certain kinds of commodities. Cute objects play the role of being a commodity in consumer culture. Cuteness contributes to consumption, therefore supporting the relationship between people and commodities. It solidifies the way people consume commodities. Different people relate to cute commodities in different ways. An individual’s experience is based on their feelings for these objects instead of rules or regulations that they follow. For example, one can experience helplessness, whereas another may feel dominant compared to the cute object. However, both of these feelings are based on their experiences with this aesthetic. The ability of an object to be cute manipulates consumers to participate and purchase as it produces a feeling of powerlessness and approaches one as unthreatening. For example, one can view an object and immediately feel a desire to protect the cute object. A cute object that appears vulnerable can attract a consumer to its commodity. Cuteness can be judged based on its physical features. For example, if the object is soft or small, it will induce motherly feelings. Cuteness and its elements persuade a consumer to produce a response to consume mass commodities.

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The small character, Hello Kitty, is a cute commodity that powers consumers to purchase and contribute to the consumption culture. Hello Kitty is considered to be cute because it displays the centrality of anthropomorphism. Hello Kitty has features that represent babies. For example, she is a cat that has large eyes and a round face. Most of the facial features are simple, and in this case, Hello Kitty does not have a mouth. She also wears her signature outfit, including the red bow that resembles average baby outfits. However, it is to be noted that an excess of personification can have a negative impact on the cuteness factor and shift the attraction away from the object. Being too realistic can change the cuteness factor and fail to align with the requirements that are crucial for mass consumption to occur. Generally, Hello Kitty is shown to be small, round, and soft which are all features of what one considers as cute. The Hello Kitty franchise includes several modifications that are considered to be cute. All Hello Kitty products demonstrate a character that is innocent, naïve, small, and vulnerable. They perpetuate a feeling of protection and safety in the consumer, which further causes them to purchase these items. A sense of duty is received by consumers that are attracted to the cuteness appeal of Hello Kitty. The cute elements of Hello Kitty are crucial to provoke the senses of consumers to contribute to this commodity in consumption.

Consumers react differently when experiencing different objects. In addition, some consumers may feel positively impacted by cute objects. In order to understand the relationship between individuals and their consumption of cute products, one must define the significance of the representation of cuteness. According to Ngai, cuteness can be projected as patriarchal views of what beauty should be defined as. The need to provide protection and safety to a cute object because it projects vulnerability and innocence is an element of patriarchy. Defenselessness and helplessness are characteristics of being cute and drive consumers that apply these views to purchase this commodity, hence increasing mass consumption. The urge to care for an object due to its characteristics creates dominance in oneself. This is similar to how one may feel towards their child. Consumers are unable to differentiate between the quality of the object and the feelings that they are receiving due to the sociological perspectives behind it. Consumers may consider objects cute, and their attraction to them may be impacted by their own significant views that aid in consuming the product to increase consumption.

The concept and elements of cuteness being an aesthetic category are used to create objects, such as Hello Kitty, as mass commodities that cause an impactful response from individuals towards consumption. Cuteness contributes to the consumption culture as it is one of the main reasons individuals may purchase an object, therefore making it a commodity. In this instance, Hello Kitty is used as an example of how cuteness plays a role in influencing individuals to increase its consumption. The innocence and unthreatening aspects of Hello Kitty align with its infant-like features driving an effective response from individuals that perceive it as cute. One’s own values, preferences, and experiences impact their reaction toward the cuteness aesthetic category, which contributes to consumption leading to the creation of cute commodities.


  1. Ngai, Sienne (2012). ‘The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde’. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp.53-109.
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Hello Kitty as an Example of How Cuteness Contributes to Consumer Culture: Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/hello-kitty-as-an-example-of-how-cuteness-contributes-to-consumer-culture-essay/
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