I’m a sucker for it, and I know you are too. Anytime someone mentions something from my teen years or childhood (say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Clueless), and I am totally enraptured, laughing along to the jokes that come with complete nostalgia for the sweet parts of my childhood.
If nostalgia brings back the same feelings in many people, utilizing it in the right way may be a good jumping point of a great marketing campaign.
With anything sentimental, it’s important to utilize retro pop culture, memes, or brands in the right way. Otherwise, people become protective of these important moments from their childhood and beyond and it can backfire.
However, when done the right way, nostalgia marketing has many benefits, including:
Bringing Back Our Childhood
As briefly mentioned above, the main reason why nostalgia is connected to good feelings is because it reminds us of the pleasant parts of our childhood. The cereal we ate, the commercials we watched, and the action figures we played with are all ingrained in our memory and reminds us of how things “used to be.”
In this aspect, nostalgia can be used to create positive, childlike feelings of wonder for your product or services, making it more fun than what is traditionally done.
A good recent example of this is Vanilla Ice’s macaroni and cheese commercial, which plays on the mom’s (and our) nostalgia for the TMNT of the 80s generation’s childhood, when the original song came out:
The perfect mixture of someone from our childhood (Vanilla Ice) doing something awesome from our childhood (singing Go Ninja Go), while promoting something new (TMNT-shaped macaroni). Perfection!
It Was a Universal Experience
Another important thing about nostalgia is that, in many cases, it is a universal experience. If you were born around the same time as I was, we will probably have the same level of nostalgia for certain things that were popular in our country during the time.
This is why nostalgia can bring people together in a big way, and it doesn’t even have to be from 20 or 30 years ago. A fairly good example of this was Facebook’s ‘gift’ to all its users for its ten-year birthday: a compilation video of each user’s time on Facebook. While not everyone has had Facebook for ten years, just seeing what they’ve shared on Facebook over the last few years meant a lot to many people and they shared their videos on their own profiles, only increasing the campaign’s reach.
Retro Always Makes a Comeback
There’s some rule about fashion that I’m probably only getting half right that the same styles cycle every 20 years. So right now, the 90s are coming back in a big way (and making me wish I had saved all my neon t-shirts) in terms of teen and junior styles, as well as workout gear.
This type of cycle is reassuring to nostalgia marketing, as you can utilize the current trends to make people remember how it was the first time around. This might be why 90s girl posts on BuzzFeed get thousands of shares.
In terms of style, it might also help to bring in the product department as well, to see if there are any former products from your company’s past that could be made into something new again. Good examples of this are Pepsi’s “throwback” campaign where they had old soda can designs and used real sugar instead of sucralose, a sugar substitute.
Another good example of a successful product re-launch is the Dodge Challenger, that brought back the classic styling of the 70s, the Challenger’s heyday.
Reminds People of Your History
Another “extra” benefit of nostalgia marketing is that it reminds people of your history. For most companies, the longer they are in business, the more they are trusted by their customers. After all, you must be doing something right to be in business for that long.
For instance, Ford Motor Company has been in business since 1903 and hasn’t changed their logo much during that time, in order to give credit back to their creation. This is especially a good idea if your company pioneered something that we all use every day, like Ford did with motor vehicles.
Overall, nostalgia marketing is a great way to connect with your user base on an emotional level and to remind people of where you’ve been in a fun way.