Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?
“OK Boomer” merchandise can be widely found on marketplaces such as Amazon.com (467 searches) and Etsy (795 searches), as well as on niche websites such as Bonfire, Teepublic and Redbubble. They can’t be found yet, however, at mainstream chains or even edgy retailers, such as Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic.
The popularity of the phrase comes from Gen-Zers posting the slogan “OK Boomer” on TikTok, the online video-sharing platform, and Twitter as a retort to older generations condescendingly referring to them as “snowflakes” or “Peter Pans” or complaining about lighter topics, such as electronic scooters, tattoos, dyed hair or mobile-obsessed youths.
The phrase becomes controversial, however, when used to call out Boomers’ fair-or-not-fair responsibility for Gen-Z’s sizeable economic hurdles (the high cost of rent, insurance, school, etc.) as well as societal issues, such as rising inequality, polarized politics and climate change.
“It is essentially Gen Z trying to fight back at the baby boomers of the world, who try to put us down a lot and criticize us,” Shannon O’Connor, who has made $25,000 selling merchandise with the two-word slogan, told BBC Radio 5 Live.
She added, “It’s a comeback to say, ‘We’re going to prove you wrong and do great things despite what you might think of us.’”
Embraced by Millennials and Gen-Xers who share resentment about Boomers, the phrase might be used against anyone perceived as old-school or out of touch.
“Baby Boomers grew up in a particular moment in the United States with a lot of moral clarity and economic confidence and certainty that has unraveled for following generations,” Jessa Lingel, an assistant professor of communication and digital culture at the University of Pennsylvania, a Gen-Xer, told USA Today.
The phrase works with Gen-Z in part because it’s passive, sarcastic and biting.
“It’s the digital equivalent of an eye roll,” Taylor Lorenz wrote for The New York Times. “And because boomers so frequently refer to younger generations as ‘snowflakes,’ a few teenagers said, it’s particularly hilarious to watch them freak out about the phrase.”
- ‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations – The New York Times
- Why are Gen Z and millennials calling out boomers on TikTok? ‘OK, boomer,’ explained – USA Today
- ‘OK Boomer’ has earned me $25,000, says student – BBC
- ‘OK Boomer’ Merchandise Is Making Thousands of Dollars for Sassy Gen Z Entrepreneurs – Money
- The ‘OK, Boomer’ meme hurts Gen Z more than the older generation it’s aimed at – NBC News
- ‘OK, Boomer’ Fatigue Is Real, 90 Percent of Gen Z Tired of Divisiveness on Issues – Women’s Wear Daily
- Two Generations, Divided by a Meme: Weekend Edition – Bloomberg
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How open should retailers be to selling merchandise featuring the “OK Boomer” phrase? What’s your overall advice selling political or other potentially controversial merchandise?