By Lauren Friedman
August 2, 2016
Be it choker necklaces, Harry Potter or Pokémon, this summer has felt like a serious blast from the past. As the years go by, we all develop a certain degree of nostalgia for our younger days. The games we played, the food we ate, the music we listened to – they all make us feel something.
Aligning marketing strategies with emotion has already proven to be successful, but tapping into fond memories can be an invaluable tactic, especially for engaging millennials. From fast food and breakfast cereals to gaming systems and everything in between, smart brands are engaging through retro roots — and it’s called nostalgia marketing. Here’s a glimpse into this powerful new marketing trend: what it is, who’s doing it well, and a few tips on how best to employ nostalgia marketing tactics to energize millennials.
What Is Nostalgia Marketing?
Brands from all industries are experimenting with nostalgia marketing — tapping into positive cultural memories from previous decades, designed to drive energy to modern campaigns. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Lego — even Herbal Essences haircare products — are just some of the brands that are trying their hands at stepping back in time to reignite campaign strategies of the past. Whether it’s bringing Colonel Sanders back to KFC or engaging millennial gamers with a new Nintendo console, smart brands are maximizing nostalgia marketing — and enjoying tremendous results.
Unless you live under a rock, chances are you’ve heard something about the interactive mobile game that’s taking the country by storm. ‘Pokémon GO’ is an extraordinary example of nostalgia marketing done well. But — and maybe even more importantly — the app also offers great insight into the power of coupling nostalgia with modern relevance.
Why Does It Work So Well With Millennials?
Why are nostalgia-centric campaigns resonating with the millennial audience? Reliving positive memories and beloved icons from the past feels good. Alongside hectic work schedules, unrelenting responsibilities, and more, fond memories make us smile — and that leaves us open to brand messaging. When we feel or care for something, we’re much more likely to act. Share a compelling blast from the past with a millennial, and you’re likely to reach them on an emotional level — the holy grail of brand marketing.
In an age of impersonal digital media, building social connectedness through nostalgia is an easy way for companies to leverage the optimistic feelings that often accompany walks down memory lane. Associating brand messaging with positive references from the 90s, 80s — and even the 70s — humanizes brands, forging meaningful connections between the past and present.