Apr 17, 2020
Why do young Americans love branded merch?

Branded merchandise was once solely found at business conventions and in the wardrobes of fervent fans, but it’s enjoying a renaissance as Gen Yers and Zers seek new ways of expressing their identity. What does this resurgence reveal of the shifting nature of consumer-brand relationships?

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When Colin Mitchell, the SVP of global marketing at McDonald’s, announced that he was “excited to help customers wear their brand love on their sleeves with the unveiling of Golden Arches Unlimited,” cynics could have been forgiven for thinking that fast food merch would never work with discerning young consumers. [1] But McDonald’s knew differently. In fact, its December 2019 merch launch followed in the fashionable footsteps of some of its rivals, with KFC’s limited-edition line of pillowcases, socks, and sweatshirts selling out in just two hours. [2] Meanwhile, Taco Bell’s collaboration with Forever21 saw a number of pieces sell out despite being produced in large volumes. [3]