Compact Disks & Landlines

Nostalgia Effect in Marketing

It’s the 90’s again. You have just come back from school and you grab your Kinder milk slice from the fridge. You sit in front of the TV and thank god that you made it in time for your favourite show, Pokemon! I know, following the TV timetable doesn’t make sense now, but bear with me…

As a Pokemon fan myself, I got really excited when the Pokemon Go game was launched (the excitement died soon after, but that’s another story for another newsletter). 

Do you see what the Pokemon franchise did there? They used the feeling of nostalgia for the Pokemon show to capitalise on the Pokemon Go game. They directly catered to our sentimental value for the show, and for this reason alone, they were able to generate a lot of hype around the game. 

They used something called the Nostalgia Effect. Nostalgia’s influence over our willingness to spend money is referred to as the nostalgia effect. Feelings of nostalgia, or sentimentality for days gone by, lead us to place increased value on social connectedness and less value on saving money.

There are two major reasons why this effect works really well - 

  1. We all tend to romanticize our past, mostly because we have no control over our present or our future. The past, however, is a comfortable place, we already know the outcome. We can pick and select what we want to remember, and that is the control we have and crave. We usually pick joyful moments or moments that make us feel warm in the tummy. Who doesn’t want that?

  1. Humans always have a “grass is greener” outlook. We spend a lot of time thinking about when the food was less expensive, the bus fares were lower when the phones had buttons, and so on and so forth. 

Some everyday examples of this effect can be - You, using your grandma's recipe to make that apple pie! or, You, taking your kids to Mcdonalds because your parents used to take you there every other Sunday. 

As an individual, you might want to look out for the nostalgia effect. By definition, this effect makes you more willing to spend money. This can be a bit of an issue, especially if you are an impulsive buyer. 

Nostalgia Marketing, on the other hand, can be a huge advantage. 

Using Nostalgia as a marketing tool is as easy as combining something old with something new. Many advertisement campaigns have had great success by using the simple trick of taking something that makes people nostalgic and adds a new, exciting twist.

I remember reading somewhere - Nostalgia marketing is the advertising equivalent of comfort food. This positive undertone may be because, in a time where we are heavily focused on the future, nostalgia marketing takes us back to simpler times. Instead of focusing on the next best thing, we focus on things that we already know are great! 

Some of the brands with excellent examples of nostalgia marketing are - 

  1. Buzzfeed - If you follow Buzzfeed anywhere on social media, you will know that they constantly keep writing articles and lists about the “90s life”. I know they are just clickbait articles, but they just make me feel so good. I can’t help but read some of them. 

  1. Bacardi - Bacardi celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012. The brand released a series of print and tv ads showcasing its party-starting heritage. This campaign gave the customers a trip down their memory lane and reminded them that the brand has stood the test of time. 

  1. Target and Star Wars - Just before the release of Star Wars’ last feature film, 2016’s Rogue One, TARGET decided to get audiences excited for the return of the Star Wars saga and their new line of Star Wars merchandise by creating some very heartwarming and nostalgic ads. These advertisements focused on people who watched the first three Star Wars movies as a kid and how they have grown up since then. They featured an English Literature teacher who uses Star Wars to explain Shakespeare to kids. The ad also features a Star Wars crazed bride who had stormtroopers walk her down the aisle.

TARGET very successfully celebrated a generation of Star Wars fans and at the same time invited a new wave of fans to the club. 

Some other brands that you should check out for more such examples are - Adidas, Mcdonalds, Nintendo, Coca-cola, Nike, PlayStation and many many many others. It’s safe to say that this tool is a pretty popular one, at least in the world of marketing.

The only word of caution for you is - don’t throw darts in the dark. Understand what motivates your audience, how they were raised, and what are their interests. Take some time, do some research. Turn on some lights, my friend.