If you’ve ever watched an ad or TV show and felt fond memories of simpler times rushing back to you, then you’re familiar with nostalgia. Connecting with a brand’s positive concepts or ideas from the past is referred to as nostalgic marketing. The goal is to create campaigns that trigger fond memories of comfort and security causing consumers to have positive associates with the brand. The emotions that viewers experience with specific brands serve as an escape from reality. While the concept is not new, it’s become more popular in recent times and is used by companies of all sizes across all industries, from Coca-Cola to the Walt Disney Company and that’s because it works.
There are plenty of brands that have created notable “throwback” campaigns over the past few years targeted at millennials, GenX, and GenZ. From reboots of beloved television shows, limited runs of signature throwback packaging, or collaborations of new and #TBT music remixes, these all successfully promote sentimentality. If Stranger Things doesn’t scream “the ‘80s”, then I don’t know what does. The Netflix original series lays the nostalgia factor on thick, complete with Eleven’s vibrant and geometrically fabricated outfits to Steve Harrington and Billy Hargrove’s hairstyles. The creators of the show have perfected the balance of fond memories and futuristic innovation to keep viewers hooked with the heartwarming storyline and CGI that brings the Demogorgons to life from the popular game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).
Fast-forwarding to the ’90s, the hit HBO Max show, Euphoria, has brought back glitter and Barbie’s baby blue eyeshadow. In season two, the cast adorned their lids with bold flicks of blue leading fans to take to Instagram and TikTok to show their best takes on the show’s top makeup moments, according to Instyle. With Y2K taking over, vibrant colors are back and brighter than ever.
Nostalgic marketing is an effective way to inspire brand affinity and encourage consumers to romanticize memories of the past. Here are 5 ways to implement nostalgic marketing:
1. Tune into Social Media: With the resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic powered by social media creators and influencers, gaucho pants and platform sandals have found their way back to our timelines and into our hearts. Social media is a melting pot of nostalgia where you can reminisce and feel connected to a larger community of people with shared interests. Social platforms are full of conversations and content about what consumers miss from the past, the memories that bring them back to their childhood, and what brands left a mark along the way. Scrolling on TikTok or Instagram allows consumers to find out what’s trending from the past. It is important to keep your ear to the ground regarding trends to know what to do when injecting nostalgia into a future campaign. Think about a brand and how it could’ve improved from back then to now.
2. Focus on the audience: The best nostalgia marketing effort resonates with multiple audiences. Brands need to understand their audience and keep in mind that the generation that first experienced the product or service will immediately be drawn to the campaign because of the nostalgia factor. In the beauty realm, Colourpop has been nailing this with their recent throwback collabs with Lizzie McGuire, and Malibu Barbie. As history repeats itself, nostalgia is now and TikTok is where Gen Z sets trends for what’s in and what will fly off the shelves.
3. Supply and demand: Consumer preferences and shopping trends are always changing, which is why brands frequently discontinue and launch products. With social listening, brands can take into account the backlash they are receiving for taking away beloved products. If the conversation is large enough, the brand might consider bringing the product back to the customers' delight.
4. Pull on those heartstrings: What story can be told? Is there a fan of the brand who has been following the company’s moves for a while? Make the brand feel human and embrace the 5 senses that dig deep into the brain’s memories. Recently, the Harry Potter crew had a reunion (Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts) on HBO Max. The special took place at Warner Bros. Studio which is home to the beloved sets of the Harry Potter movies. As many people streamed the reunion, a flood of emotions filled the cast and viewers when reliving the films.
5. Don’t rush it: You are working with human emotions so your approach must be strategic and full of effort. A quick turnaround campaign will feel rushed and a money-grabbing stunt. Make your audience want more while also feeling satisfied with what you have given them.
Keep listening to your customers to figure out what makes your audience nostalgic. Allow your brand to bring comfort to many during these unpredictable times by connecting and embracing the familiar.
Best-in-class brands listen to the voice of the customer to make strategic decisions to ensure their campaigns create warm feelings for their customers while also shedding a positive light on the brand.
Time to shake up your Magic Eight Ball and bring memories to fruition!