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October 24, 2022

Why is Nostalgia Marketing So Effective?

Post By:
Patricia Alexis
In-House Contributor
The Daily Drip
Guest Contributor:

Hocus Pocus 2 opened to a record-breaking premiere weekend on Disney+, claiming number-one status on the streaming platform. Not half bad for a sequel. What boggles the mind, though, is the nearly thirty-year gap between the beloved original film and its follow-up. What gives?

The movie’s success is anything but an accident. 

Just earlier this year, the sequel to the 1986 classic Top Gun smashed box office records, making it Paramount’s highest-grossing film to date. For those keeping score, that’s thirty-six years between the two installments.

These sequels aren’t riding on the fresh excitement of their original films-- just the opposite. Their success comes from the intense psychological power of nostalgia. Or moreso, nostalgia marketing.

What is nostalgia marketing, and why is it so effective, you may ask? In this article we’re going to unpack this winning strategy and take a look at how it shows up across various industries.

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Nostalgia marketing is an emotional tactic that plays to a deep longing for fond memories. These memories might look different, depending on the target audience-- a nostalgic moment for Gen X might completely go over the heads of Gen Z.

Companies use nostalgia marketing to win hearts, minds, and wallets… and in our post-pandemic world, they’ve gotten really good at it. During the first COVID lockdown, mentions of nostalgic keywords increased by 88% on social media. Multiple major brands have capitalized on this trend, using songs and imagery from the past to evoke that craving for a “simpler” time.

Brands like Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, and Primark have successfully used this strategy in recent marketing campaigns. By making callbacks to vintage logos, classic products, and pop culture trends of previous decades, these companies are just a few of many who have leveraged the emotional appeal of past memories.

When we connect to a familiar past (rather than an uncertain future), the instant sense of recognition and warmth creates a feeling of security. And security leads to sales.

The psychology behind this marketing strategy has made it wildly successful, especially in the past few years. The good news is, your business doesn’t need a storied history to tap into the power of nostalgia marketing today. Here are a few things to consider if you want to use nostalgia marketing in your brand or business:

  • Know your target audience. By studying your ideal client or customer group, you can get to know their values and emotional attachments. Consider the media and cultural moments that would have been significant during their formative years, and niche down based on factors like gender and topics of interest.
  • Lean into important moments. Is your business celebrating an anniversary, milestone, or rebrand? Use the momentum around the event as an opportunity to weave in nostalgic songs and imagery.
  • Pay attention to details. Small as they may seem, they play a big part in capturing a truly nostalgic experience. Elements like font choice, color palette, and framing can bring an entire era to life. (Stranger Things, anyone?)
  • Be authentic. Nothing kills the magic of nostalgia quite like pandering. People can smell a cheap gimmick from a mile away. Stay aligned with your brand’s core values and messaging-- if it doesn’t work, don’t force it! The most effective nostalgia marketing happens at the intersection of your brand’s values and your audience’s interests.

Nostalgia marketing is powerful on the receiving end, but it can be an equally powerful tool in your own business. By linking positive memories to your brand, you can let your audience know that you truly understand them-- the first step to a genuine connection.