Fun’s Not Just for Kids Anymore!

March 20, 2024

Brands are targeting adults with collectibles and giveaways.

Recently, we’ve seen restaurants offering toys and other tangible brand-building collectibles as incentives to drive traffic and excitement with adult guests. This emerging trend has been seen in meal combos, drink promotions and promotional product giveaways that are driving social media buzz, traffic and sales for the restaurant industry.

McDonald's Cactus Plant Flea Market Collectibles

McDonald’s has led the charge. They offered a Cactus Plant Flea Market Box in 2022, garnering Gen Z credibility with the edgy fashion license. The meal was styled as an “Adult Happy Meal,” including a special box and a toy. It reportedly drove a 37% YOY increase in traffic the week it launched. The Kerwin Frost Box launched in 2023 including one of six collectible McNugget Buddies inspired by the American artist, DJ and talk show host. Both meals featured licensed content with strong appeal to Gen Z consumers that drove excitement and media impressions.

Starbucks Collectible Holiday Cups and Raising Cane's Post Malone Cups

We’ve also seen this trend accelerate with the increase of collectible cup programs. Starbucks has seen success in this space for years with Red Cup Day and its limited edition cups. Other brands are now catching onto the trend. Last year saw Raising Cane’s launch of a co-branded collector cup series with music icon Post Malone. The promotion drove enviable traffic as consumers clamored to collect the whole series.

Dutch Bros Coffee Collectible Stickers

And it’s not just cups that adult consumers want to collect. Dutch Bros has a monthly sticker drop featuring a new, design-forward sticker with a new or suggested drink pairing, driving collectors’ return visits. The ongoing collectibility has the added benefit of keeping continuous brand-buzz percolating through social media circles.

Why it works. Collectibles that customers can touch and feel give them a moment of joy, regardless of their age. These special items are a treat, a little something extra to make life more fun and bring a sense of nostalgia for the kids’ meals and toys they grew up with.

It creates a tangible emotional connection. A collectible program has the power to delight guests with physical tokens of your brand. It makes them feel like brand insiders, and that super-charges their fandom.

It differentiates your brand. What makes customers choose you and not another brand? You stand out when you provide a unique experience they can only get from you.

It creates conversation and generates buzz. A collectible program can make your brand newsworthy. Tangible activations are buzz-worthy on social media and through earned media.

C3 can help. At C3, we’ve been creating, manufacturing and distributing collectible products as part of meal programs for over 37 years. We create smart design, leveraging licensing when appropriate, to take
brand-building ideas from conception to the marketplace.

To learn how you can win with this trend contact us at the link below!


C3 is a Kansas City-based marketing and design agency that brings brands to life for families with children through experiences and entertainment. C3 uses insights, strategy and expertise to produce award-winning programs and custom products to help major restaurant, hospitality and service industry partners connect with families wherever they are—in person, at home or in the community at large.

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