A licensing agreement has been reached in China by the Japanese business behind the Hello Kitty brand after one of its lesser-known characters became popular there.
According to Sanrio, one of China’s largest e-commerce companies, Alibaba, will have the only right to produce and market products featuring its 26 characters.
The agreement follows the appearance of Sanrio’s imp-like rabbit Kuromi in a popular Chinese social media video.
Sanrio’s stock increased by about 14% as of Thursday’s closure in Tokyo.
The five-year deal with Alifish, Alibaba’s licensing and entertainment division, would “further increase the Sanrio brand and character value in the Chinese mainland market,” the firm claimed in a statement.
The agreement includes 26 characters created by Sanrio, including Hello Kitty, My Melody, her closest pal, and the wicked Kuromi.
Kuromi’s popularity in China earlier this year soared as a result of a dancer wearing Sanrio character-inspired attire.
Helenoftroy, who has more than 14 million followers, released the video on the Douyin, the TikTok app available in China.
On Halloween, Kuromi’s birthday, and she is referred to as a “tomboy” who is “really extremely feminine.” She likes reading romance books and keeping a diary, according to the Sanrio website.
Despite the fact that Hello Kitty personifies the “kawaii,” or cuteness, culture of Japan, the business has claimed that she is actually a British teenager named Kitty White who lives just outside of London.
Since the brand’s creation roughly 50 years ago, it has brought in billions of dollars.
Products featuring the mouthless cartoon logo and the distinctive hair bow are offered for sale in 130 different nations, with products ranging from prosecco to plimsolls.
Sanrio has also obtained licenses for amusement parks and coffee shops, and in 2018 a Japanese railway company painted its bullet train in pink and white with the picture.
However, the coronavirus pandemic had a significant negative impact on Sanrio, whose company has been decreasing for a while.
Theme parks and retail locations for the company were temporarily shut down as a result of measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Sanrio’s sales in China increased 39% to 4.7 billion Japanese yen ($34.4 million; £28.4 million) in the year up to March of this year, despite the limitations. During that time, its domestic profits increased by 19%.
The business saw its first leadership transition in six decades in 2020.
That occurred when the company’s founder Shintaro Tsuji, who was 92 at the time, turned over management to his grandson Tomokuni Tsuji.