How do I market and sell cuteness?
July 20, 2007 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I humbly and politely request your input on my forthcoming character-related logo wear apparel marketing. T-shirts, sweatshirts, keychains, hats, etc., featuring a character I created.

I am going to be marketing a line of apparel and related items based on a "cutesy" character. The demographic will be teen girls, or women who are likely to have a visceral reaction to cuteness. "Awwww!!! That's SO cute!!!!!!" is the common immediate reaction when most women and all teen girls see this character. It's not a pre-existing character; it will exist solely to bring the joy of cuteness to the lives of millions. And to sell products.

So, even though I have some experience in marketing, I am looking for any further insight on undertaking such a venture, particularly personal experience and recommendations for silk-screeners and online sales systems. I am guessing any success this line might have would be related to "buzz" more than advertising, so if you have any personal stories about creating buzz around a product, that would be great.

Also, I am a realist and am not expecting to make some kind of huge overnight splash. Rather, I know that the best business plans follow the "slow and steady wins the race" mantra. Thanks all!
posted by The Deej to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For online sales, I love Shopify.
posted by logic vs love at 7:54 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you done any target research to see if this character will elicit the emotion of elation that you are going for?
posted by banannafish at 8:00 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: I have so far done very informal "market research" but some actual, wider area market research is in the plans. In fact, I didn't plan this. It's just something I came up with, and my current plan to market products is based on the spontaneous and unexpected positive reactions.

In other words, I really wasn't going for anything... the reaction just followed.

Any input on some ideas for targeted market research are welcome of course. Thanks!
posted by The Deej at 8:17 AM on July 20, 2007

Best answer: Hmmm. I think you need to do more market research than "I am going to sell these because people will explode because these products are so cute."

I would think it easy to find 12 people you don't know to try/wear your product and then get their reactions. Maybe you know a friend with children, and you could have this friend help organize a party to get some reactions from parents and kids.

You should not be afraid to use the services of your local Small Business Administration, because they have retail sales advisors who can really be of help getting products off the ground.
posted by parmanparman at 9:00 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: Hmmm. I think you need to do more market research than "I am going to sell these because people will explode because these products are so cute."

Yes, exactly; further market research is in my plan.

I've actually helped a client market his apparel, but it was sports-related and the popularity of his items relied on the fanbase of the team, so there was a ready market. This, of course, is a whole different situation.

I have a popular teenage daughter, so she and her friends have been the first level of research. Even though we get their reactions before telling them that it's mine, I will be testing further afield with friends-of-friends, and cast the net a bit further to get feedback from people who are farther removed from me, and my daughter, to remove the
prospect of any subliminal influence. One idea along this line is to offer (at some public event geared to teens) a free t-shirt from a selection of 3 or 4. One would be mine, and the others would be existing products of varying popularity, and find out reasons behind the selection. Just an idea... have to figure out the details.

The SBA recommendation is a good one. I also have available a SCORE office which is a great resource.

Thanks for your input parmanparman!
posted by The Deej at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2007

Best answer: If it really is squeeeee!-cute, you can try submitting it to delight, cuteable, awesome, tickle fancy, outblush, modish, or one of the other many popular, girl-/cute-/indie-focused shopping blogs.
posted by logic vs love at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2007 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome links, l vs l! That's exactly the market I am looking for, along with retail outlets that would sell Happy Bunny, Hello Kitty, Boys Are Stupid (David & Goliath), and similar things. This is a totally innocent line, however, unlike some of those. Thanks tons l vs l!
posted by The Deej at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2007

Best answer: Recommended Reading:

Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon

Over on Vox there is a Kawaii group, you might hit some folks up there to be in a research group, or look for similar groups on LJ, etc.
posted by mikepop at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: Great info, mikepop. This is exactly why MeFi rules!
posted by The Deej at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: For anyone else following, or finding this thread through a search: The Tipping Point also has good info about how some products, trends, ideas become popular, and how they lose popularity.
posted by The Deej at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2007

Best answer: If you can afford it, advertise on Cute Overload.
posted by Liosliath at 10:46 AM on July 20, 2007

Best answer: Strong advice: before you start posting on those cute-overload type sites, be sure you have a very good website THAT CAN TAKE ORDERS, and most of all, that can handle huge traffic surges.

Stronger advice: don't post on all of them the same week. Make it "once each Monday" task or something.

And a serious tip: whatever it is, go give 100 of them away in Harajuku (or send me to do this), then sit back and wait.

Cuteness moves east-to-west.
posted by rokusan at 2:30 PM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks rokusan! Great advice! I hadn't even thought of anything outside the US, but I do agree with the Direction of Cuteness Law. It would be interesting to see how this would play in Japan. It seems like we import out Cuteness, but to export Cuteness to Japan... hmmm. If it gets to that point, I will take you up on your offer. You might just end up the Ambassador of Cuteness.

Fortunately, the items won't be difficult to produce; single-color line drawing and text, silk screened. So I shouldn't have to do a lot of anticipation of demand, as they can be produced as needed, as long as my supplier is in the loop.

Thanks again!
posted by The Deej at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2007

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