Updated: Nov 28
Author: Sara Zanotto
Date of publication: 23/07/2023
Have you ever watched a movie or a TV series in which somehow you let yourself get carried away by the memories it evokes? If not, you might have danced along the soundtrack of Stranger Things recalling the good old days. That is what nostalgia marketing is about.
A Definition of Nostalgia
Nostalgia refers to the melancholic desire of going back to a period of our past that can’t be re-experienced. This sentiment arises when something or someone reminds the individual of a past situation. Moreover, nostalgia could also refer to a time of our life when things were not so complicated. It could also refer to a period in which we empathized more with other individuals.
Why vintage marketing is effective in marketing campaigns
Nostalgia is often perceived as a negative frame of mind. However, vintage marketing employs the feeling of melancholy conferring a positive meaning to it. The reason is simple. The past is a safe and unchangeable place in which the individual can take shelter from the danger of their current life. Consequently, humans usually associate happy memories with the past.
Furthermore, there is a specific time lapse in which the preferences of an individual take shape. This period of time is called age-related-preference peak (Robert Schindler, Morris Holbrook), and it includes the first twenty years of a person’s life. Once our preferences are established, it is really difficult to change them.
The process of nostalgia marketing
The process of nostalgia marketing consists in taking advantage of human’s collective imagination in order to evoke memories. These memories need to ignite positive emotions in the consumer. Thus, the client deposits these feelings into his mind and associates the brand with positive concepts. The aim is to link the brand with the memories that are used inside the advertisement.
In particular, this technique is used not only to improve the brand image but also to increase engagement. One of the best channels through which nostalgia can be broadcasted is social media. If consumers bump into an ad or a post that reminds them of their past they will be more likely to share it with friends and family.
Effective examples of nostalgia marketing
Coca-Cola represents probably the most popular example of nostalgia marketing. Let’s think about Coca-Cola’s advertisements during the holidays. The brand managed to create an unshakeable association between the beverage and Santa Claus. Their employment of vintage marketing has been so successful that nowadays Coke reminds most people of the Christmas holidays.
In 1973, the female tennis player Billie Jean King played a tennis match against male player Bobby Riggs. She ended up winning the match. This tennis match went down in history as it proved once again that men are not superior to women. So, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of King’s success, Adidas launched a capsule edition of shoes. This included the face and signature of Billie Jean King on them.
Coca-Cola’s sworn enemy Pepsi also used nostalgia marketing to implement its sales and reputation. The brand launched Crystal Pepsi in the 1990s and it instantly became well-known among young people. In 2016, a grassroots campaign on the Internet led Pepsi to bring back Crystal Pepsi for a limited amount of time.
In conclusion, every generation has its own memories. That’s why it is essential for marketers to put themselves in the consumer's shoes. This way, they can effectively use nostalgia marketing in communications campaigns.