Wide-eyed girls snapping their best kawaii selfies, gangsta-looking SUVs decked out with a Hello Kitty steering wheel cover – Japan’s ambassador of cute has officially arrived in Cambodia.
The Sanrio Gateway store, the official and exclusive home of Hello Kitty and friends opened on July 29 in Aeon Mall. This is the first official Sanrio store in Cambodia and it looks like this is only the beginning for the already global phenomenon of kawaii, or cuteness.
The store will give teenage girls, their BFs and BFFs (boyfriends and best friends forever) their fix of everything Hello Kitty, from coin purses to stickers, clothing and even Tupperware.
The iconic Japanese Kitty’s 40th birthday this year will see a variety of celebrations and limited-access products. Despite her age, Kitty is more omnipresent than ever.
“We have found that Hello Kitty is in itself a household name here in Cambodia and known to children and adults alike”, says Sanrio business development executive Janny Huang.
Of course, Hello Kitty has had a strong presence here due to readily available imitation products.
“Prior to the official merchandise launching in Cambodia, imitation Hello Kitty products have been in existence in Cambodia for many years,” says Huang. “However, this is also a challenge faced even in developed countries”.
Within Cambodia, Huang continues: “Sanrio is the first mover in this market, with its concept retail store, as there are no official distributors for other children’s brands”.
With a steady growth in the market and a multitude of foreign direct investments, Cambodia is in an ideal position for retail development.
“At the moment, there is the sole Sanrio Gift Gate store, located at Aeon Mall, but we have expansion plans, which we will be implementing in the coming months,” says Huang.
“In terms of investment and establishing business operations, we find the economic policies of Cambodia welcoming”.
Praising Aeon Mall for creating a destination that controls the retail mix and integrity of brands, Sanrio foresees a wealth of opportunity in Cambodia.
“In comparison to other more developed Asian countries where there are more established malls and retailers, Cambodia is in its infancy in terms of retailing”, says Huang. “This, I believe, is an advantage, as there is less ‘noise’ in the market”.
“We believe that the ‘Small Gift, Big Smile’ philosophy held close by Sanrio will work well here in Cambodia”, says Huang.
“Hello Kitty’s role in Cambodia is to spread cheer and joy, she is joined with a number of her character friends and promotes harmony and sharing”.
With no limits to where she can travel, Hello Kitty has already ventured to where many of us could only dream: outer space.
As part of her 40th birthday celebrations, Hello Kitty has joined the orbit of Earth aboard a Japanese government nano satellite, aiming to boost relations and interest in Japanese technologies, while delivering her messages out to Mother Earth.