Explained by Science: Why Nostalgia-Driven Marketing Strategy Works
Nostalgia-driven marketing strategy works, and science explains it, so it can be used in a campaign to form a bond with your audience
Nostalgia-driven marketing strategy works, and science explains it, so it can be used in a campaign to form a bond with your audience. People will react to memories that trigger certain times and feelings.
The narrative of “good old times” has been present for a long time since civilization as we know it has started to develop. It seems not to be a culture-specific feeling but a universal notion in many peoples and eras. We have always longed for the past times.
Sometimes even for those we haven’t witnessed. This narrative has gone so far that for centuries. So, people believe that the times they currently live in are. So it’s not working, and the end of the world is right around the corner, coming to punish mankind for their sins.
Why Nostalgia Marketing Strategy Works?
Nostalgia-Driven Marketing Strategy Works
This is a recurring philosophical subject as well. Most famously, Rousseau inspired generations of thinkers to assume that the foulness of humans was due to cultural and economic factors and that there once was a primitive, uncorrupted state of mankind we should yearn for.
On the surface, nostalgia is often caused by simple associations with times when we were safe, careless, and innocent. Most of the movies, music, or even sports players we loved as kids are probably not as good as we remember them. But we hold on to them firmly as if, that way, we’re holding on to a time that we found simple and enjoyable.
The same goes for products we consumed in those good old times. We’ve seen a lot of companies reinventing their old products and commercials. Mascots and packages or simply reminding people of a leitmotif of a particular era. Trying to appeal to a certain generation of consumers. Does this work, and why?
Which processes in human consciousness are responsible for the success of such business endeavors? How to get the most out of nostalgia in your marketing efforts? Let’s look into this subject in a bit more detail.
How does nostalgia work?
Often, we relate nostalgia to a feeling of sadness for something that has long been gone, but researchers claim there’s another side to it. Nostalgia may be caused by feelings of such kind, but its ultimate effect is slightly different. Regular employment is an excellent way to battle loneliness and anxiety.
It can also make people feel more like their life isn’t wasted. Good memories induce a bittersweet feeling because those times are not coming back, but at the end of the day, they’re the thing that makes our lives worth living. We also tend to make these memories too romanticized and idealize them.
This is in accord with what Daniel Dennett, a cognitive scientist, and philosopher, claims about how people’s perceptions of themselves work. In his book Consciousness Explained, he states that we are the creators of our past, and we reshape it according to our emotional needs.
This is a defense mechanism, fighting against the dangers of trauma or meaninglessness. To find a point in our lives and not lose the grip, we look at our past through a lens that usually makes it more excellent than it was. Ultimately, we can convince ourselves that this is the basic version of our earlier life.
Who’s affected the most by nostalgia-driven marketing strategy?
This is especially true in times of specific vital transitions in our lives, and that’s why young adults are usually influenced the most by nostalgia. When the whole world as we know it is shaken and changing, we need something to hold on to. A reminiscence of a careless childhood is much more pleasant than the experience of looking for your first job.
This means that, currently, if you want to base your marketing strategy on nostalgia, the millennials are the best target group. There are two additional reasons for this. Firstly, as Cassandra McIntosh, senior insight analyst at Exponential, claims, young adulthood is specifically traumatic nowadays because of the job market collapse caused by the economic crisis.
Secondly, millennials are the first “digital natives” born into the digital era, meaning that their memories are constantly recorded and put before them through all sorts of devices and social media. Also, all this has led to an information overload, compressing their sense of time and making them long for times as recent as last week.
Nostalgia-driven marketing strategy benefits
So finally, apart from millennials being the perfect target group for a nostalgia-driven campaign, what other takeaways would be significant for your marketing efforts? Many branding and design agencies, marketing companies, and renowned corporations have taken full advantage of nostalgia.
Evoking the correct memories at the right time can do wonders for the growth of your social networks. Posts trying to arouse the feeling of nostalgia have a lot of potentials to go viral as they can provoke an entire generation to share it and talk about it. There’s a good reason why we’re flooded with the “only 90s kids will understand this” posts lately. They simply work.
However, nostalgia-based marketing has more direct effects, affecting people’s spending habits. Namely, according to research, nostalgia evokes the feeling of social connectedness, which causes people to value money less.
This, in turn, makes it easier for them to spend money and not care too much about it. Hence any nostalgic aspect of your product or your marketing campaign can increase your sales by exploiting people’s inclination to stop thinking rationally and economically when they find themselves in a nostalgic environment.
How to do nostalgia-driven marketing strategy and science right
Nostalgia Driven Marketing Strategy Works
Nevertheless, the fact that nostalgia can work in marketing doesn’t mean it will always work. You mustn’t just use a past event or collective memory in a simple, primitive way without offering any new value. If you’re using vintage products or campaigns again, you must reinvent them and make them relatable to the present day. As a result, a good example of nostalgia-driven marketing science.
Otherwise, you’ll just look desperate and out of touch with reality, and it’ll seem like you’re doing that just because you’re out of ideas, so you decided to appeal to the most elementary human emotions and take advantage of them. It’s simply not the way to do it.
A great example of a successful reinvention of an old product is Pepsi’s revival of Crystal Pepsi. This was a popular drink in the 90s, and Pepsi decided to bring it back for eight weeks in 2016. Together with this, the company released a video game called “The Crystal Pepsi Trail”. Which was a tribute to the “Oregon Trail.” “Oregon Trail” is an evergreen video game that was up in the 70s. Significantly impacted kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s.
What Pepsi did here used multiple media and multiple senses to touch a number of people’s weak spots. Intrigue them in numerous ways. Secondly, it’s very important that this game can still be interesting to today’s kids.
This means that Pepsi didn’t just plan to engage its old. Nostalgic customers but also tried to appeal to the new generations simultaneously. Here, they attempted to boost their brand by creating emotional bonds. Not only between the company and its customers but also between two different ages of customers. Particularly parents and their kids.
And this is the crucial lesson to be learned about nostalgia-driven marketing. It evokes strong emotions in people and makes them more inclined to like. Sharing or spending money doesn’t mean your job here is easy. As a result, an excellent tips for nostalgia-driven marketing science.
For a successful campaign, it’s not enough to just induce a certain feeling in people. Then sit back and relax. You need a careful strategy that would be built on these emotions. But also includes something fresh, valuable, and relevant to the era we live in and the new generations.
Can challenger brands capitalize on nostalgia effectively, or are they more effective against legacy/established brands?
I think every brand can honor creativity with nostalgia and turn it into a positive, bringing more joy to the present and still being relevant to their brand values and meaning. At the end of the day, as with any creative field, it’s all about how you use it both exceptionally and strategically and translate it into your brand world to ensure that the brand still has its tone and the values portrayed.
Some nostalgia-focused brands implement creative implementations to create a stronger emotional connection. The first example that comes to mind is Hovis’ Boy On The Bike ad, which we’ve seen lately in most of John Lewis’s Christmas ads using one way or another.
However, in other categories where heritage or history is not necessary, such as Tourism Australia’s recent Cannes-winning ‘Dundee’ campaign, we’ve seen nostalgia put to good use, even by financial institutions like Halifax. I also used Top Cat and The Flintstones. In the last case, the key to learning is to use it consistently over time because then the world you create with it becomes how you are recognized and, therefore, your brand equity.
I don’t think it works better with more legacy brands, although it’s a more consistent area than the use of new brands that didn’t exist in the past, you can rotate the site with new brands. I hope this article helps your studies about nostalgia-driven marketing science and strategy.