Cute things always seem to capture our hearts, no matter what age we are. There’s just something about a cute baby or puppy that has us saying, “Awww.” Cute products are a trend to watch as brands build cuteness into their marketing campaigns and new cute retailers enter the marketplace. So, just how interested are people in cute things? Google data suggests the worldwide interest in cute has grown exponentially over the last 10 years.
At the retail level cuteness isn’t spared, especially in NYC. Brands such as Line Friends and Rilakkuma have staked claims in the city with emerging flagship retail stores. Daiso, a store selling a variety of cute products also recently entered the NYC market. It’s no surprise that cute is coming up nearly everywhere, as cute products tend to leave long lasting impressions in the minds of consumers. Retailers are well aware of this phenomenon and continue to massively use cute marketing tactics.
NYC is a central hub and much coveted for launching new brands. The fast-paced city will soon play host to the newest cute expo, Cutie Con, where all things cute converge, from beauty, fashion, food, media, film and toys, to tech, books and so much more. This massive 2-day expo will debut in Summer 2020 and is expected to attract over a hundred thousand global attendees, influencers, and media representatives, while showcasing over three hundred exhibitors. The expo will also feature some of the top experts in the cute industry and a number of new launches. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be anything like it yet in the marketplace, and we are excited that it is finally happening.
The founder of the first-to-market Cutie Con, Maesa Koeber states, “We are currently in the planning stages, looking for sponsors and locations that can offer at least 125 thousand square feet in order to house the event. The goal of Cutie Con is to bring a nostalgic, impactful, and joyous experience to global consumers and give brands an opportunity to network and elevate business endeavors within the cute market.”
Cutie Con is aggressively planning for the next five years as they project the cute market will have tremendous growth, taking the expo on the road, visiting global cities and exporting a ton of cuteness overload. There hasn’t been any word as to which cities the expo will target next, but we suspect they will likely target the Asian market.
So why is it that we are so attracted to all things cute? Our obsession derives from a phenomenon where cute things are scientifically proven to bring happiness. When we see cute objects, we release chemicals in our brain that bring joy. The same phenomenon occurrs when we see babies as we are intrinsically built to want to care for and nurture children.
These scientific occurrences are also related to the idea of “cute aggression,” the term dubbed by Rebecca Dyer, a grad student in psychology at Yale University. This type of aggression exists when people look at cute things and have the urge to squeeze them. Dyer suggests “one reason why we have pent-up aggression over cute pictures is that seeing something cute, like a baby, drives us to want to take care of it. But we can’t reach through a photograph to cuddle it, so we get frustrated—and then aggressive.” The cute phenomenon is so well established, it has even been studied to an extent of how it affects us in the work environment. The research article, “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus,” found that looking at cute images at work can boost employees’ attention and overall performance.
In Japan there is an entire culture built around cuteness called “kawaii,” where fans obsess over all things cute. The wildly popular concept has exploded worldwide, spreading with it an entire lifestyle. On Instagram, #kawaii has already seen over 36.2 million post attributions, while #kawaiifashion holds second place with 503 thousand post attributions.
Cute things will continue to capture the love of worldwide audiences and will be globally celebrated in unique ways. The vast benefits of cuteness seem to be endless and with Cutie Con entering the marketplace, it will drive consumers and retailers to celebrate this phenomenon on a massively larger scale. We can’t wait to see how Cutie Con will elevate the cutie era.
Written by Connie Chi (@Connie_Chi_). Connie is the founder and CEO of The Chi Group, a NYC branding agency humanizing and co-branding brands through experiences. She’s also the host of The Brand Academy Podcast which talks about trends in branding and marketing, secrets to co-branding and brand strategies that can help you level up your brand.