This Really Takes Me Back: Utilising Nostalgia Marketing

We're all focused on the future. Between figuring out our next steps and trying to be ahead of the game, we’ve forgotten how the past can be of use. Now, more than ever, we have all turned to the comforts of the past in a way to cope with this ever-changing world. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion in all our lives, and it is a feeling that can be harnessed in marketing.

Nostalgia marketing is a strong tool that many brands have taken to adopting this year. From changing their logos, bringing back old taglines, and using old songs, there is a lot that can be done. Brands like Burger King and Coca-Cola have turned back the clock to connect with their audiences.

It isn't only big brands that are trying their hand at this technique. Newer brands have been making it their own, some even pushing past the more modern elements of marketing completely. Makeup brands, like Colourpop, have released limited-edition collections based around the early 00s. They included products like roller-ball lip glosses and lots of blue eyeshadow that were staples back then.

It was a popular release as it reminded customers of when they were getting into makeup, and how the art of painting your face can still be fun. It’s a technique that has served a lot of brands well, as it brings feelings of comfort and longing to their target audience in such a way that it’s almost a no-brainer not to make a purchase. It’s no surprise that brands have been leaning on this technique as evoking these emotions creates a deeper connection with their customers.

Now begs the question, how can you utilise this for yourself?

The first step is to keep your ear on the ground, or eye on the screen, to the conversations taking place on social media. There is a plethora of Tweets sent out each second, so why not make use of what they’re saying? Being aware of them, even what they’re looking for, means you can capitalise on it pretty much as soon as they want it. Take Maybelline, who brought back their iconic Dream Matte Mousse after seeing a viral Tweet about the product. They were able to send the product to influencers on TikTok and drum up traffic to their sites they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Those who had moved on from Maybelline came back to try the product of their youth again, and those who had only heard about it got to try it.

Speaking of paying attention to your target audience, researching them as a group will allow you to narrow down what nostalgia means to them. Millennials will view nostalgia differently compared to someone who is Gen X; so, marketing your brand with a 70s theme to a Millennial won't have the desired effect. Every demographic you try to reach will have a different set of ideals and characteristics to focus on, especially when it comes to what gives them that nostalgic feeling.

Be as creative as possible when you’re coming up with your plans. Your audience can tell when something is genuine or only a money-grabbing scheme. So, slapping an image of a character from an old cartoon onto your product won’t do the trick. All brands have a story, so reach into yours and see what you can dredge up that relates to nostalgia. The Cereal Killer Café is a great example of this. Their restaurants are designed to transport you back in time to when you were younger. Picture it: you’re sitting on your bed, wearing pyjamas, and watching TV whilst eating a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning. In your mind, you're picturing yourself as a kid rather than an adult, and that is the feeling they bring. When you’ve placed your order, you’re given a VHS tape as a table marker and your seats are beds with duvet covers on top, emblazoned with a character from pop culture. Consumers respond best when care is taken, and the human side of a brand has been injected into everything they create. Nostalgia is one of the easiest and strongest emotions to convey through marketing.

You can also focus on bringing the past to the present day and update those products to the demands of today. A good example of this is Nintendo. Though they keep coming out with new consoles and games, they’ve listened to their audience and made some of their older games modern and relevant. Practically everyone you know got themselves a Switch during lockdown and instead of playing new games on it, they were all playing Animal Crossing or the Legend of Zelda. Both games have been staples since their releases, but instead of sticking to the way they looked and played in the past, Nintendo have updated them for the better.

Our team of creatives are on hand to help you inject that nostalgia into your brand if it feels, in the words of Navi, too dangerous to go alone.

Amiee Bolger
Published:
September 20, 2021
Written By:
Amiee Bolger