TORRANCE, CA— Zojirushi is bringing pop culture icon “Hello Kitty” to life in partnership with global lifestyle brand Sanrio. The collaboration represents the first licensed collection in Zojirushi’s history and will encompass some of the supplier’s signature products, including an automatic rice cooker and stainless steel mugs.
The Hello Kitty Limited Edition Collection will be available at selected retailers nationwide and online beginning July 1, 2020. The joint effort is the first of its kind for Zojirushi America, which has been supplying kitchen appliances and drinkware to the U.S. market for 30 years; the parent company has been a leading supplier in Japan for more than 100 years.
“Zojirushi has been nourishing people’s bodies and souls since 1918 and the beloved Sanrio brand has been warming people’s hearts for 60 years,” said Tatsu Yamasaki, Zojirushi president and chief executive. “This collaboration of two historic brands from Japan made sense for us. It allows us to expand our reach, challenged us to step outside our norm and create a new demographic of consumers.”
Marilyn Matsuba, marketing manager for Zojirushi America, added, “This is our first time with a licensed collection. We had been approached by Sanrio on multiple occasions, and the timing hadn’t been right. The opportunity presented itself again, and the executives agreed that with Sanrio’s monumental anniversaries, and Zojirushi’s history in consumer products, it was a good time to partner and expand our brand awareness within the Sanrio fan base. While Zojirushi and Sanrio have a lot in common, they have a different audience that we wanted to reach out to with this new collection.”
Craig Takiguchi, chief operating officer and head of business development at Sanrio, said, “Sanrio and Zojirushi not only share Japanese heritage; together, we stand committed to developing quality goods and memorable experiences. We’re so excited Hello Kitty can be part of our consumers’ everyday lives through these premium product offerings.”
In addition to the beloved Hello Kitty figure, Sanrio is home to many other character brands including Chococat, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Gudetama and Aggretsuko. The company was founded on a “small gift, big smile” philosophy, meaning that a small gift can bring happiness and friendship to people of all ages. Sanrio products are available in more than 130 countries and in retail locations including department, specialty, national chain retailers and Sanrio boutique stores.
The Hello Kitty Limited Edition is exclusive to the U.S. and Canada, with a never-before-seen Hello Kitty pattern designed specifically for Zojirushi. The product launch coincides with Sanrio’s 60th anniversary, and both companies will support the new initiative with special marketing programs to boost the brands.
“We will be working together to reach media, influencers as well as consumers, but mostly digital at this time,” said Matsuba. “Unfortunately with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re not sure if any of the live events can happen.”
In spite of the global pandemic, Matsuba said the July launch date should go as planned. “We do not foresee any supply chain disruptions at this time; only some issues on the marketing side in terms of planning launch events or consumer events,” she noted.
The new limited edition automatic rice cooker and warmer will feature special gold Hello Kitty graphics on a white machine. The cooker has a 5.5-cup capacity and numerous special features, including easy one-touch operation; automatic keep warm when cooking is done functionality; a detachable and washable inner lid; detachable power cord; hinged lock tight lid with push-button release; and an easy-to-clean non-stick inner cooking pan. Accessories include a measuring cup, spatula and spatula holder; the suggested retail price is $203.
Also part of the collection is a stainless steel mug, offered in white/gold and black/gold color combinations. Known for its vacuum insulation technology, the Zojirushi mugs pay homage to Sanrio’s Hello Kitty icon. The 16-ounce capacity mug is made of high-quality 18/8 stainless steel, with a lightweight and compact design. The lid lock prevents accidental leaks or spills, and the lid is vented so the beverage flows smoothly. The mug is made of BPA-free plastic and a non-stick coated interior makes the mug easier to clean; the suggested retail price is $52.