The Implications of Nostalgia Marketing

Consumers today may be increasingly tech-savvy, but that doesn't mean they aren't eager for an opportunity to tap into the past. Even in a never-ending sea of sophisticated technologies, nostalgia is still alive and well in the hearts of consumers. Everyone has sentimental feelings about certain things from the past - whether it involves food, fashion, toys, cars, music, movies, television, places, old friends, family traditions, holiday celebrations, special events, or entire periods in life that remind us of better times. It's fun to reminisce, and your customers think so too!

From releasing new products in old-school packaging to reintroducing popular old products that have long been off the market, companies have been using the power of nostalgia in their marketing for years. Some of the most well-known examples include Coca-Cola's 1950s-era soda bottles, Polaroid's reinvention of their iconic retro instant film cameras, and Nickelodeon's "NickSplat" programming block featuring reruns of classic 1990s children's TV shows. Even newer companies are catching onto the trend, offering "throwback" products to their customers or simply using songs, images, logos, designs, taglines, characters, and other content from the past in their advertisements and marketing campaigns.

So what makes nostalgia so popular? We've gathered some insights from marketing research below:

It has a time travel effect.

"Studies confirm that most consumers look back on the past with rose-tinted glasses and are ready to spend on any product that can help them recreate the feelings of warmth and security they felt during happier times."

- from Euromonitor's Global Nostalgia Marketing Report

It can have a positive effect on peoples' personal lives.

"Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer."

- from The New York Times article, "What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows"

It makes customers feel like they can trust your brand.

"Techniques such as celebrating anniversaries or featuring the date your business was founded within your brand identity shows consumers that you have stood the test of time and is an instantly effective method of gaining their trust."

- from the Adido Digital article, "Oh the Good Ol' Days: Nostalgia Marketing and the Power of the Past"

It gives customers a sense of individuality.

"For some - especially those in the younger age groups - nostalgia is more about a desire for individuality and originality than a yearning for bygone times. The term “retro” is applied to modern products that use an old-style design to appeal to those seeking the cool or fun factor."

- from Euromonitor's Global Nostalgia Marketing Report

It helps people cope with an uncertain future.

"A series of investigations by psychologist Constantine Sedikides suggest nostalgia may act as a resource that we can draw on to connect to other people and events, so that we can move forward with less fear and greater purpose."

- from BBC's article, "Nostalgia: Why it is good for you"

What implications can we draw from this research?

First, simply a reminder that your customers are human, just like you. That can be easy to forget sometimes in the marketing world. Each customer has a unique personality and past, and they are driven by a unique set of motivations and dreams. They seek meaningful experiences that appeal not only to their interests, but also to their emotions. Nostalgia makes it easy for us to empathize with customers because we all get nostalgic for something. You can use this as common ground to understand your customers from their standpoint and engage them on a personal level.

Second, it is important for marketers to understand the factors that make customers long for the past. Customers today face a variety of dilemmas, including personal drama, social instability, economic turmoil, natural disasters, and political uncertainty. Staying updated on the latest market trends and current events will help you gauge what your customers might be nostalgic for right now. Additionally, the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) has grown up in an internet and technology filled world. Though they have been constantly inundated with information overload, most millennials still remember a time from their early childhood when things were a whole lot simpler. This generation seeks solace from their complicated world in the simplicity of their childhood experiences. They also view these experiences as a part of their unique identity, or what makes them a true individual. Knowing this not only allows marketers to determine which campaigns will work best, but also allows them to tap into which colors, designs, images and copy will really appeal to their customers.

Third, nostalgia marketing is a winning strategy. Nostalgia makes people feel good, brings them together, and even gets them excited for the future. As time goes on and people get older, they seem to get even more nostalgic for the past. So you have an endless supply of content to work with as well as the knowledge that what worked in the past will likely work again in the future. Moreover, the variety of nostalgic content you create can also be easily shared across pretty much any marketing channel. The more your business enables customers to relive memories, the more positive associations they will make with your brand. This is what gets them to trust you in the first place and is sure to keep them coming back for more. Take advantage of nostalgia marketing today and you will start building a following of happy, loyal customers for life!


Which examples of nostalgia marketing do you find particularly effective and why? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Posted on in Marketing Trends

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About the Author

Megan is the senior blog writer at Clench Media, a lead generation specialist company that generates high quality leads across multiple verticals domestically and internationally.
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