Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

How To Cash In On “Cute Culture”

When young business professionals start to think about establishing their business, naturally they will want to approach their start up with maturity. Yet, ‘cute’ doesn’t just sell in Japan, it sells all across the world, especially with the millennial market. Of course, the media will use any excuse to slam millennials in tabloids, and their spending habits are definitely no exception.

However, it’s about time that entrepreneurs looking for the best way to hit the ground running with their startup considered how best to cash in on millennial consumers.

Why Are Adult Consumers Still Drawn to Cute Products?

In practically every market we see cute and cuddly mascots popping up. Whether that’s as a brand logo, or as a giveaway in promotion to other goods or services, or just the incorporation of ‘cute’ in today’s digital world via websites and apps. The fact that cute is still a massive part of our culture really is no coincidence. When brands present us with cute things, they’re actually presenting us with one of the strongest forces known to marketing, which has the potential to change our behaviour. Marketers may always be quick to mention the use of colour psychology when it comes to branding and web design. However, cute is one of the most underrated weapons in a marketing strategy!

Whilst of course everyone has a different perception of what is cute, there are still many things which hold universal appeal, such as babies, kittens, or other adorable animals. When we are presented with such images our brains find that they’re difficult to ignore. Which makes cute branding or adopting the nation’s love of cute the perfect way to entice potential customers. Whether adults like to admit it or not, we all find a certain level of affection when presented with cute and cuddly imagery such as miniature products, dolls, and teddys. But why? Whilst it may seem unlikely that the answer to that question is; the survival of our species, it’s 100% true (yes, even for the manliest of men!). We’re hardwired as humans to notice human babies, in 2018 it may not seem feasible that a parent could ever forget about a child, however back in our more primal days, humans we’re wired to register a child’s vulnerability.

We don’t just feel the impulse to love human babies either, as humans, we fall for anything with a relative measure of adorability, their vulnerability triggers a sense of empathy and compassion. Which makes a lot of sense when you think about how parents give their children toys or dolls to “look after”. Even some cars such as the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500 have also been branded as ‘cute’ cars, and their popularity hasn’t diminished in the decades since the first models were released. The Mini Cooper may not possess the same “cute” cues as we’ve grown accustomed to such as large eyes, chubby cheeks and a round body which we see so often in cartoons. Yet, people still love to see a car as having a face, and the car manufacturers are only all too willing to see that their cars go under an anthropomorphic process to ensure consumers get the cute factor that they’re after!

The traits which we see in babies, baby animals and cuddly toys are known as the “baby schema”. The baby schema has the ability to activate a part of our brains which releases a flood of euphoria and endorphins, similar to what opioid users would get from getting high. This is achieved by the glutamate receptors in the brain becoming activated and triggering an anticipatory sense of enjoyment. The baby schema is just one of the 6 ways reasons why we love to be surrounded by cute things.

The Best Way to Incorporate Cute into Your Startup Culture.

So, whether you’d like your new start up to centre around being cute or just employ a cute mascot to help potential customers warm to your brand, it never hurts to get a cute character onboard with your business plan.

Remember how popular the price comparison website Compare the Market got when they employed a family of fictional meerkats to be their mascot? Compare the Market single handedly started the meerkat craze with the introduction of the cute, soft, rounded, bug-eyed plush toys! It wasn’t before long that the plush toys were being listed for sale on eBay with a price tag of £200+! After taking into consideration what humans perceive as cute cues, it really is no wonder that the meerkat sprung to much more popular heights than the Natwest Pigs or the Churchill nodding dog.

Yet, of course, not all start ups will have the opportunity to lure in new customers with free adorable giveaways. But technology has made it even easier to incorporate cute into a company’s culture. Now company start ups can take all shapes and sizes, with the only limit being your imagination.
The industry-leading slot game developers Eyecon certainly knew a thing or two about cute culture when they designed their perpetually popular Fluffy Favourites franchise. Fluffy favourites and other variations of the online slot games have become increasingly popular with adult players from across all demographics. As well as the design of the online slot game hitting you with waves of nostalgia taking you back to the time you spent in arcades as a child, players love to play with the cuddly character symbols. The symbols include pink elephants, giraffes and even rhinoceroses, but you’ll notice that each of the characters has the same rounded, soft big-eyed cuddly appeal!

So, along with ensuring that your business start-up appears professional and creative, why not consider adopting similar methods to Compare the Market or Eyecon? Always ensure that you are keeping up with the current trends. In 2017, mermaids were a massive trend, yet, in 2018, it was time for the unicorn to steal the popularity top spot. Why not see if your brand can set the trend for 2019?


Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

Tagged as: , ,