The tech blogosphere has been aflutter this week with the next, biggest thing to change our lives. Well, perhaps the lives of millions of pre-teens across the world. The Hello Kitty Solar Charger.
Fresh after last year’s release of the Hello Kitty space heater, this nearly 6″x 6″x 3″ contraption can recharge your iPod, Blackberry, or any other portable electronic device with a USB plug. The charger also has a DC battery for those unfortunate moments when sunlight just isn’t cutting it (a typical solar charge takes 6 hours while a DC charge takes 1). Interestingly – amidst the designer purses and jewelry – the charger is nowhere to be found on the online store at Hello Kitty’s official website, home of parent company Sanrio, Ltd. It is apparently only available at DreamKitty for $160, the unofficial one-stop shop for all things Hello Kitty. To give a point of comparison, that is almost double what many other solar chargers can be found for, and serves as fodder for many of the anti-Hello Kitty groups out there.
Despite the price, however, the people at Sanrio are introducing a concept into the worlds of our generation’s youth: renewables. This hearkens back to a previous 3P discussion about Hummers in Happy Meals where the question was posed, if responsible automakers shelled out as much cash as GM, could a Tesla or Prius or Smart Car just as easily make its way into a McDonald’s promotion? Leaving the resultant question of how much cash that would actually take aside, the discussion does bring up a good point. The brands that already hold significance in young people’s lives are great vehicles to teach them about the environment and sustainability. However, whether this is a conscious effort by the makers of Hello Kitty to influence the way we consume products, or if this is a moment of clever PR work is hard to know for sure.
The elements aren’t necessarily new. A massively successful brand creates an environmentally friendly product during the incline of the ever-growing green movement. Yet, if this new gadget is even as half as popular as most other Sanrio products, then potentially millions of young people across the world will be learning to charge their devices by the use of a renewable resource rather than plugging yet another object into the grid. Which begs the question, who could have thought that what we might need more in this world are things like Hello Kitty in our lives?`