How American Eagle Captured the Youth Market and Never Really Let Go

Brand speaks the language of Gen Zers, but predates them by a lot

When it comes to speaking to an enormously fickle audience, American Eagle has clearly found its formula, and the kids have paid them back for it. Courtesy of American Eagle

Earlier this year, American Eagle Outfitters took a gamble that turned the heads of not only customers, but other marketers as well. Like many brands pursuing the fickle tastes of Gen Z shoppers, the mall-based apparel retailer had convened focus groups full of teens, eager to hear what they did and didn’t like. And like plenty of other youth brands, American Eagle was careful to cast actual youths in its advertising, too. But then, it took things a decisive step further by taking a gamble: It put the juveniles in charge of the entire marketing campaign—the concept, the clothes, the shoot, the script, everything.

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This story first appeared in the June 3, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.
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