Hello Kitty is at the top, but how much higher can she claw?

Hello Kitty at the top but claws to stay there...
Hello Kitty at the top but claws to stay there...

While the world's most-popular feline may be ready to scratch out the eyes of that mean Tokyo-based correspondent who claimed she's on her ninth life, Hello Kitty's profits remain purrfectly "strong," says Janet Hsu, president of Sanrio's Global Consumer Products division. The product list of Hello Kitty items certainly seems to grow weekly -- including this week's introduction of a Demeter fragrance line to be sold in Urban Outfitters and other outlets.

Hsu, who oversees the North America operations of Hello Kitty for Sanrio, says that 2009 was the strongest year for Hello Kitty sales in North America and Europe, seeing gains of 30% and 20% respectively. In Japan, overall Sanrio sales may have been down 3% but Hello Kitty sales were up 9% last year. Sales growth has come largely through the introduction of new, more adult products -- such as high-end jewelry -- and an aggressive licensing program. Sanrio's future strategy is to go where the people are -- targeting the as-yet untapped and heavily populated countries of China and India.