Year after year, generation after generation, consumers love to look back at the good ol’ days. Whether the rose-colored glasses are looking back to 2005, 1995 or even 1975, the memories become more cherished as time passes by. The human penchant for nostalgia can be successfully used in marketing by leveraging graphic design, music, childhood characters, costumes or hairstyles to “elicit sentimental yearning or wistful desire for the past.”
Companies that deliver nostalgic experiences evoke emotional engagement with their brand. And since 68 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if it appeals to them emotionally or personally, it’s not surprising that nostalgia plays a major role in many marketing campaigns.
Marketing developer HubSpot had an apt observation: “Nostalgia marketing is the advertising equivalent of comfort food.”
But why the sudden interest in this trend?
Marketing campaigns over the last two years have been especially fueled with nostalgia, mainly due to Covid-19.
“Generally, people find comfort in nostalgia during times of loss, anxiety, isolation or uncertainty,” says Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College. New research from the University of Southampton also shows that nostalgia makes people optimistic about the future.
So, in an uncertain world that feels turned upside down, uneasy consumers will gravitate toward brands that offer a connection to the past.
In this article, we’re looking at 5 examples of how companies use nostalgia to forge stronger relationships with consumers:
When developing its “Like a Rock” campaign, Chevy knew through research much of their target audience listened to Bob Seger growing up. And by using music consumers associated with their teenage or young adult years, Chevy connected personally, increased brand recognition, and sold a lot of trucks!
Burger King is one of the companies that rebranded to remind customers of the “before times” prior to the pandemic. In the company’s first refresh in 20 years, its typography now bears a vintage design inspired from the Burger King logo used between 1969 – 1999. For companies with a vast marketing history, retro design and packaging can project “longevity” and “dependability.”
Pizza Hut’s recent “Newstalgia” campaign featured PAC-MAN to leverage a marketing “double whammy”: It attracted older customers, reminding them of the days when they played PAC-MAN while waiting for their pizza to arrive, and drew in the younger generation through their love of gaming and retro design. During the campaign, the restaurant’s pizza box design included a PAC-MAN maze which was paired with an app allowing customers to play PAC-MAN using augmented reality. Customers competed to win a PAC-MAN game cabinet.
To celebrate the storied history and evolution of Nike’s “Swoosh” logo, Foot Locker launched a digital campaign ripe with nostalgia. The “We Live Sneakers” campaign featured meaningful milestones and everyday routines in in a sneakerhead’s life, with each event showcasing a pair of sneakers from the company’s “Evolution of the Swoosh” footwear and apparel collection.
“’We Live Sneakers’ celebrates sneaker culture in its totality, and it was important for us to pay homage to the global community that’s made Foot Locker part of every stage of people’s lives,” said Patrick Walsh, vice president of marketing at Foot Locker, in an interview.
The Back to the Future LEGO set was developed to be a nostalgic product with two-fold appeal. While LEGOs are usually perceived as a toy for kids, it’s the parents who buy the toys for their children. And many of today’s parents have warm childhood memories of watching the 80s film and would naturally be interested in its licensed LEGO set. It’s also why so many adult-oriented jokes appear in movies like Shrek. If both the kids and parents are interested, then the product is that much more likely to be purchased!
These examples of effective nostalgia marketing may differ somewhat in form and execution, but there are common elements shared by them all. The following tips can help your company achieve an emotional and nostalgic experience that cements a positive brand association among your target audience.
Know your customers and their values.
- Use focus groups ahead of a new marketing campaign to ensure the message is properly shaped and delivered.
Right channels for the right audience.
- If you’re targeting Millennials, forget cable TV and radio and leverage social media and influencers.
The devil’s in the details.
- Typeface and other smaller design aspects can have a major impact in creating a retro look (consider the vintage, Stephen King-style logo used in the title of the show Stranger Things).
Help it go viral.
- Make content easy to share with a robust digital campaign.
Last, and most importantly, be authentic! While keeping tabs on pop culture trends and using them to your marketing advantage, it’s important to remember your choices should always align with the brand image you’ve established. If not, the attempt will not appear genuine and is likely to fall flat.
Wondering if nostalgia marketing is the right campaign strategy for your business in 2022? Ask the experts at Baer Performance Marketing today!