Nostalgia is the positive emotion you feel when recalling anything, from a memory of a day out with friends or loved ones to revisiting your favourite childhood TV show, film, or video game that you have experienced repeatedly. These feelings can be so powerful they can even inform our individual decisions, whether that’s to purchase a product that replicates those emotions or see a film rebooting your favourite franchise.
Businesses can take advantage of this by using nostalgia and connecting to the “Inner Child” to help connect more with their customers and drive change by playing on established themes. UK Greetings, a supplier of greeting cards and Boofle plush, has put together this guide on why it’s so effective and how to build a strategy around it.
The main reason for using nostalgia in your marketing strategy is to grab your audience and build a connection with them through the strong emotions it can generate. The feelings that are deeply ingrained within us, reminding us of our younger years, can help create a favourable perception of your business’s brand.
A great example of this was Pepsi Co. listening to campaigning fans of their discontinued “Crystal Pepsi” that hit shelves in 1992 before being pulled in 1994. To celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2022, it was brought back for a limited run with the accompanying social media hashtag #ShowUsYour90s to have the chance of winning six bottles of the drink.
Not only does this appeal to the inner child of older lovers of the drink who may remember it initially being marketed and missed out on the chance to try it, but it also grabs the attention of younger consumers who weren’t alive during its original run.
Nostalgic themes can be key to creating a sense of brand loyalty in consumers through the emotions they experience when they think about businesses and their products or services. This can also ensure that consumers return with their loyalty and create long-standing relationships for years to come.
Building your strategy
If you think nostalgia could be beneficial to integrate into your strategy but aren’t sure where to start, the first thing you must consider is how your messaging can impact multiple generations. This can be done by presenting bygone eras as ones we should appreciate and reminisce on, which can help to bridge the gap between these generations as the older ones will want to share their own experiences from these times.
Disney can’t be topped when it comes to nostalgia and connecting different generations through their catalogue of films. While their animated classics are more accessible than ever through their streaming service, Disney Plus, several of their more iconic films, such as The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, have been remade as live-action adaptations. This can play on the nostalgia of fans in older generations, unlocking or reconnecting them with their inner child while simultaneously creating new fans in younger audiences.
The next is how you deliver these messages, and the answer usually falls to consumable, bitesize content that can be shared with everyone. Social media and smartphones are more prevalent than ever, and when people see something that resonates with them or brings out those nostalgic emotions, they’re more likely to share it. This helps reach audiences even further afield than previously imagined.
It’s not for everyone, so be authentic and don’t shoehorn
It’s important to note that while nostalgia marketing can be hugely effective for many businesses, it may not translate to the purchasing behaviours that you hope for. Firstly, your entire brand persona should never be solely nostalgic. If you’re only seen to be living off previous success, it presents a lack of desire to move forward and evolve with the times and the industry you exist in.
This could be seen during the coronation of King Charles III, when many outlets played on the history of the monarchy and the Royal Family in the buildup. A survey from Hall & Partners of the British public found that even the positive emotions they previously felt towards them weren’t the same today, with 23% believing the monarchy to be outdated.
Another crucial thing to remember when using nostalgia to build out your marketing strategy is to be as authentic as possible with it. Consumers aren’t stupid and can see inauthenticity from a mile away, and in the age of social media, everything can be shared and presented as negative or different from its intended messaging.
The key to nostalgia marketing strategies is to strike an appropriate balance between wanting to continue to adapt while keeping an appreciation for the past of both your industry and your unique brand. Authenticity is an essential part of nostalgia marketing and is something that should always be a top priority.