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Nostalgia Marketing: The Art of Selling the Past

Nostalgia Marketing The Art of Selling the Past

Ah, the past… the past was great, right?

At least it was better than the present, would you agree?

Just think about your favorite dish that your mother used to prepare, your favorite childhood song, or when you look at some old photos. You feel that? That is nostalgia.

You see, scientific resewarch has established that our memory tends to forget certain bad things that have happened to us in the past, preferring to reinforce the good memories. That is why we feel nostalgic when we think about the past.

Additionally, events in the past have already happened, which makes them appear more certain, while the future… to quote Jim Morrison “is uncertain, and the end is always near”.

To no one’s surprise, nostalgia is incorporated into marketing, capitalizing on the positive emotions associated with past events, ideas, occurrences, and so on.

Let us take a look at the process behind nostalgia marketing and understand why it can help businesses sell more.

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What Is Nostalgia Marketing?

Nostalgia marketing is the tactic of applying positive and familiar concepts from the past in a way that evokes feelings of happiness, and warm memories.

By using this strategy, brands associate themselves with things that their customers already like, and thus predispose them to trust the brand more. After all, as the basic business rule states: a happy customer is a repeat customer.

What is more, nostalgia has the power to help people who are feeling lonely, anxious, sad, and so on, and make them feel better. Of course, they will be thankful for whatever made them happy, and will become happy clients – ideally of your business.

Another thing. Consumer behavior is quite often nostalgically related to certain brands. For example, if a person used to drink a lot of Coca-Cola when they were a kid, they start associating that brand with good memories, and continue purchasing it as adults.

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What Are the Benefits of Nostalgia Marketing?

Benefits of nostalgia marketing with icons for positive memories, personalized relationships, comfort audiences, and pop culture references by DevriX

Using nostalgia in your marketing campaigns can be quite beneficial for your business. Here is why:

  1. Positive memories. When you make people remember positive memories, they will associate your brand with these positive feelings. Furthermore, these emotions will stick with users for a long time, and may very well be the reason they decide to do business with you again in the future.
  2. Personalized relationships. Nostalgia is a great way to build a more personal relationship with your customers. Such connections can lead to more trust, and brand loyalty.
  3. Comfort audiences. Bringing back good memories can comfort people, and assist them in getting rid of negative emotions. As we mentioned earlier, this could result in the audience associating your brand with good vibes, and positive emotions.
  4. Pop culture references. Most marketing campaigns, or ads that target nostalgia, reference pop culture events or personalities. This is where customers can relive certain moments from when they were younger.

Although using nostalgia might sound like a bulletproof solution, it is not all sunshine and roses. In reality, there are a few…

Things to Consider

Before you venture into selling nostalgia, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks. First and foremost, it is vital to know who you will be targeting with your campaign.

For instance, if you are targeting Generation Z, then referencing an old Vincent Price movie (Champagne for Caesar (1950)) will have zero-to-no-effect.

However, Baby Boomers might have watched said movie when they were younger, thus creating a sudden flashback to a past, hopefully happy or enjoyable, moment.

At the same time, be careful not to imply that someone is too old or to send the wrong message. Keep in mind: what was acceptable in the 70s, for example, is completely unacceptable now.

Ultimately, always remember to pick memories for your campaign that are associated with positivity – both back in the day and today.

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How to Create Nostalgia Marketing?

Steps for creating nostalgia marketing: research audience, identify memories, incorporate history, be creative, and use social media, by DevriX

Now, it is time to go through the thought process behind creating a nostalgic marketing campaign.

  1. Do your research and understand your audience. The very first step when thinking about starting a nostalgia marketing campaign should always be research. Explore your target audience along with their preferences and constraints. Establish data like their age range, needs, personality traits, as well as other important demographic and psychographic factors. Depending on your audience’s generation, you should choose different pop culture events and references for your campaign. For example, Millennials would relate more to the 90s and early 00s, while Gen X would enjoy the 70s and 80s.
  2. Identify positive memories and look at the details. Always do your best to avoid past events linked with negative or controversial memories. Once you have determined your target audience and the period that you will use for inspiration, start identifying positive memories from that era. For instance, the 90s are instantly associated with grunge and hip-hop music, TV series like Friends and Seinfeld, popular movies like Home Alone, and Pulp Fiction, and so on.
  3. Incorporate the history of your company. This part is mostly applicable to companies that have existed for a long time, or at least a decade or two. The point is that you can try to include the history of your company in your nostalgia marketing. People who have purchased from your business in the past may feel nostalgic, which could persuade them to buy from you again.
  4. Be creative and offer something new. Creativity is an essential skill for all marketing professionals, and nostalgia-based marketing is an awesome way to share that skill with the world. What is more, you may not always be able to license the use of brands, shows, and events from the past, however, you can represent elements of that era, using the time-specific fonts, colors, fashion, etc. Additionally, it is a good idea to balance things out by featuring something new in addition to the old. Use well-known and loved elements from the past, while mixing them with a new, modern feel. This way, your campaigns can be both nostalgic and modern.
  5. Use social media and follow the trends. Have you heard about throwback hashtags? While not the only medium to use, social media typically plays a big role in nostalgia marketing campaigns. A good practice is to create highly shareable content for the different social platforms you intend on using – short videos, images, interactive content like quizzes, games, etc. Also, you can craft your own hashtag, which may help your audience find you easier, and let you stand out from the rest. On top of all that, what better place is there to follow what is new, and trending, than social media?

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Effective Nostalgia Marketing Tactics

Here are a few effective tips you can apply to your campaigns.

  1. Apply scarcity. Bringing back a classic item is great, however, if you want it to sell like crazy, why not make it a limited-time item? That is right, scarcity always does the trick, it is like saying: “hurry up, get your ticket for a trip down Memory Lane before it is too late.”
  2. Use nostalgic words. More often than not, marketers want to emphasize the nostalgic value of something. They can do that by using hashtags and words like: throwback, memories, nostalgia, remember, retro, vintage, reminisce, etc.
  3. Include retro imagery. Vintage graphics, retro filters, old-school objects like an old Nokia or Polaroids – can enhance the overall nostalgic feeling of your campaigns. Adding such familiar imagery can trigger happy emotions in users, and uplift their buying mood.
  4. Collaborate with the icons. Classic retro pop culture phenomena like Pac-Man, Looney Tunes, and Sonic the Hedgehog will most likely and instantly resonate with your audience. They are probably the true definition of good nostalgic childhood memories. A lot of brands venture into such collaborations, since they are, in practice, a guarantee for sales, and success.

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Nostalgia Marketing Examples

Volkswagen Beetle: Less Flower, More Power

The Volkswagen Beetle is a symbol of ’60s counterculture. Famous for its design, this iconic car sold over a dozen million units worldwide. It was only logical for Volkswagen to bring back this legend, using the nostalgia technique.

In 1999, the “New Beetle” was introduced, and it sold over 80,000 cars. This campaign clearly targeted Baby Boomers, all while inventing a modern slogan – “Less flower, more power”. What a great way to mix the old with the new.

Nintendo Switch – Two Brothers

Nintendo was a staple of almost every household during the 80s, and 90s. So it was not that unexpected when the Japanese video game giant decided to launch a nostalgia marketing campaign.

The campaign, which was pure genius was simple, yet emotional, utilized storytelling, and felt personal. A lot of people could easily relate to the tale of the two brothers.

What do you think? Is this one of the greatest ads that target nostalgia? You tell us.

Siri and the Cookie Monster

Sesame Street is one of the greatest kids shows of all time. First airing in 1969, it became a favorite for generations, and it created some of the most easily recognizable pop culture characters. One such creation is the Cookie Monster.

Apple created an ad to introduce the new hands-free Siri for iPhone 6, and it was truly brilliant. It is short, simple, and full of iconic 70s imagery that, surely brought a smile to the millions that grew up with the cookie-loving blue monster.

Siri and iPhone immediately take the viewer down Memory Lane to a simpler time associated with heart-filling emotions and nostalgia.

Heinz Ketchup – No Added Sugar

Here Heinz are clearly targeting those who grew up eating ketchup as kids and are now adults. The animation style of the ad is a clear throwback to the classic Disney animations that many know and love.

Simultaneously, Heinz embraces the modern feel in their ad, acknowledging in a fun way that we should eat healthy, as well as, throwing some rocks at the “adulting” term that has become popular over the last decade or so. Thus, comes their new product, with no additional sugar, or as they put it: “We can’t fix all of your adulting problems, but we can help you cut back on sugar…”

Clever, entertaining, and a great animation to go with it.

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That’s All Folks

Wow, how time flies when you are thinking about the past! We have reached the end of today’s article. Hopefully, we have managed to provide some great tips and insights into the world of nostalgia marketing.

And in case you want to share the good vibes with us, feel free to do so in the comments below!