Nostalgia Marketing Trends: Buy Good Memories and Positive Emotions

Ahhhh… the “good ol’ days” – when things were simpler, less chaotic, and more fun. If you’ve ever caught yourself drifting into that line of thinking, you may be experiencing nostalgia. And now companies may be trying to use those warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings to their advantage.

Key takeaways:

Many of us have fond memories of playing with a favorite toy, taking a trip, eating a particular food, and listening to music. Just thinking about a favorite toy can bring back happy, positive feelings about playing with that toy. That’s nostalgia working its magic. Companies and brands are trying to trigger those warm feelings, and get you to notice or buy their product. It’s called nostalgia marketing.

What is nostalgia?

Nostalgia is usually a sentimental, longing, or wistful affection for the past. It’s usually linked to a time, place, or object with happy, personal associations. The origins of the word connect it to a feeling of being homesick. A modern, broader use of the word hits the notion of longing for or missing aspects of our past.

Why do we experience nostalgia?

According to psychology professor Dr. Krystine Batcho, nostalgia is an emotional, unifying experience. It helps people connect with loved ones, to moments in their past, and their sense of self.

Batcho says nostalgia can be a comforting and stabilizing force – especially during tumultuous times, or periods of change.

What is nostalgia marketing?

Nostalgia marketing is a strategy companies use. They try to tap into familiar concepts from the past in a way that helps build trust for new products, ideas, or campaigns. The goal of nostalgia marketing is for people to associate a company or product with the positive feelings consumers already have. The idea is to evoke good memories and promote purchases by consumers.

How does nostalgia marketing work?

Research shows that nostalgia can relieve loneliness, anxiety, and boredom. Buying something that triggers nostalgia can help us feel comforted. If done well, nostalgia marketing campaigns can be effective because they resonate with good memories and positive emotions from our past. When these emotions are triggered, consumers can relive the fun and fond moments. Studies also show that people are more likely to spend money when they feel nostalgic.

Nostalgia-based trends are in many industries. Social media sites made “Throwback Thursday” hugely popular. The idea of showcasing a photo from the past to share with friends is popular and can elicit nostalgic feelings and good memories.

Many industries use nostalgic marketing, from fashion to media, food, entertainment, plus sports.

In some cases, companies might think what’s old is new again – and it seems like you can’t avoid hints of the past.

Examples of industries using nostalgia marketing include:

Television and streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu, ABC, NBC, Peacock, and other corporations target nostalgic feelings with shows like Blockbuster and Stranger Things. Reboots or spin-off series are also wildly popular like Fuller House, Veronica Mars, Will and Grace, Quantum Leap, Fraggle Rock, Bel-Air, and Gossip Girl.

Beverages. Global companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are trying to cash in on nostalgia by resurrecting beverages from the 1990s like Surge and Crystal Pepsi. They’ve also reintroduced old logos.

Toys, games, and entertainment from the ‘90s like Pokemon and Tamagotchi are popular again. Even old characters like Sonic The Hedgehog and Barbie are getting Hollywood attention with big films that share their stories.

Fast food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut have reintroduced old logos to tap into nostalgic vibes. They’ve brought back old menu items or reintroduced items to a new audience. The Happy Meal for adults is one example.

Fashion trends like choker necklaces, bike shorts, high-waist jeans, and baggy pants are all making a comeback. Companies like Nike are bringing back old clothing and shoe styles, rebranding them as retro. Nostalgic trends are common in fashion.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic led to more nostalgia marketing?

Research shows that consumers crave comfort, especially during uncertain times. During the pandemic, more than half of consumers sought comfort in familiar and nostalgic entertainment. As a result, companies are trying to offer familiar concepts and ideas that exude positive emotions.

New forms of nostalgia marketing

Nostalgia is no stranger to marketing. It often has a strong presence in company campaigns. Research suggests that companies try to enchant consumers – making something ordinary seem special. To generate this enchantment, brands use nostalgic marketing in different ways.

For example, newstalgia is described as the use of nostalgia in the marketing of a new product. Companies are offering a product or experience that is new but combines it with old trends that are still relevant.

Fauxstalgia or false nostalgia is described as a feeling of nostalgia for a time a person never experienced. It usually works because many people crave feelings or experiences from a previous era.


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