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The Powerful Effects of Nostalgia Marketing

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Perhaps you’ve felt it before: a wistful affection for a time, place, or feeling from your childhood or from before your time entirely. Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for something of a time gone by, is a feeling most of us probably recognize. Maybe you wish the diner down the street from your childhood home was still open and cooking up those perfect homemade blueberry pancakes, or the toy you loved as a toddler was still being made so you could buy it for your own child. Something you may not know about nostalgia is that it’s more than just a feeling – it’s a powerful marketing tool. Nostalgia marketing, which, according to Forbes, works particularly well with millennials, is a concept that uses our emotions to sell a product or service.

So who exactly is using this marketing tactic, and why is it so effective? Well, it’s effective for a simple reason: marketing strategies that play on our emotions are persuasive. According to Buffer Social, “in an analysis of the IPA dataBANK, which contains 1,400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns, campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content (and did a little better than those that mixed emotional and rational content).”

These three brands are using this marketing tool to their advantage:

  1. In January, Volkswagen revealed a new concept car at the Detroit Auto Show. The interesting thing about it is that it’s not really that new. Enter the classic Volkswagen bus of the ‘60s. A popular form of transportation for small armies, the VW bus is a quintessential part of imagery associated with the ‘60s. Much to my surprise, my own grandmother recently told me that she owned one. I found myself wishing it was still kicking around so I could attempt to get it on the road again (hello, nostalgia). VW has capitalized on the nostalgia associated with the bus, and introduced an interesting take on the classic, albeit with a more modern look and enhanced technology. Volkswagen wouldn’t confirm if the VW ID Buzz, an electric reimagining of the microbus, would be produced for sale, according to CNN Tech, but their concept pitch started a gust of coverage on national media channels and brought an old fan favorite back to life without even having to create the vehicle for sale.
  2. Probably most of the kids who grew up in the ‘90s will remember the Furby, a fuzzy fellow that liked to babble to itself. Furby sales ended in 2000, but lo and behold, Hasbro brought them back in 2012, a perfect time for those pre-teens that were playing with the toy in the ‘90s to repurchase it for their own children. The new take on the old Furby was met with a strong sales response. Even in 2016, 4 years after relaunch, CNBC reported that strong Furby sales played into the growth of US toy sales, which jumped nearly 7 percent.
  3. “Crystal Pepsi, a caffeine-free, clear version of the cola was sold for a brief time in the early 1990s and then discontinued. Since then, it’s returned only a few times for limited runs,” according to Today. But now it’s being relaunched, and Pepsi even has a marketing plan that will send those who participate back to the ‘90s. According to Today, “to celebrate Crystal Pepsi, and its era of origin, Pepsi promoted the relaunch with a series of retro concerts with headline acts Busta Rhymes and Salt-N-Pepa.”

Big brands are buying into nostalgia marketing. Should you? If your business has been around for awhile and you discontinued a product that you could bring back, would it garner a response? You could also create an experience to help customers remember fond memories from the past – music, aromas, and traditions are all effective ways to do this, and nostalgic feelings are especially helpful to businesses as we enter the holiday season. Nostalgia marketing is a powerful tool, and if used correctly, it can give your business a boost.

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