Nostalgia is now BIG business, Who would have thought that the vinyl LP would now be outselling CDs and downloads and that one of the most desireable presents last Christmas was a cassette player. In a digital age where everything seems to be transient and disposable, there is still a deep yearning within us to have an emotional tie to our purchases. Couple a tactile multi-sensory experience with positive memories seen through ‘rose-tinted’ glasses and you have a licence to print money.
As a music lover, I can quite understand the appeal of the LP record. Analogue reproduction is always going to sound warmer and richer than its digital counterpart no matter how many thousands of times it’s sampled per second. But the cassette tape?
The cassette tape revival, as well as the reemergence of the Poloroid instant camera, is down to the phenomenal success of the Netflix series, ‘Stranger Things.’ A series that owes its own success to nostalgia by carefully recreating the 1980’s and in doing so evoking memories of a simpler time where life was slower and considerably less stressed. What surprised me when talking to people about the cassette tape revival is that they never mentioned the quality of sound (or lack of it) at all. They talk about making mix tapes, spooling the tape forward by using a pencil, the feel of taking it out of its flip box and the rattly sound it made as you popped it into the cassette player.
So what is this thing called nostalgia that creates such powerful emotions? In the past nostalgia was seen as negative. Psychologists thought the sense of loss experienced by people comparing the present with warm memories of the past, was a primary cause of depression. The word ‘nostalgia’ comes from the Greek words ‘nostos (a theme used in Ancient Greek literature where an an epic hero returns home), and ‘algos’ (the pain associated with it).
Nowadays, nostalgia is seen as a driver of empathy, social connectedness, and an antidote for loneliness and alienation. In fact, far from making us miserable, looking back into our memories takes us to a happier place and helps us cope with difficult situations. It’s why we encourage an upset child to think of happy thoughts.
As marketers we can tap into nostalgia and the warm fuzziness that comes with it. In fact, using Nostalgic Marketing to tap into the emotions created by fond memories of the past can be an extremely powerful tool.
A casual glance at Christmas TV commercials (from any year) and it becomes obvious to see how many of our big retailers see the power of evoking memories of past good times; and it doesn’t seem to matter whether we actually experienced them or not. None of us were around in the time of Dickens’ Victorian Britain and yet the images of snow, carol singers, plump turkeys and street urchins create within us positive feelings and desires. By linking products and services with these powerful nostalgic emotions creates an association in our mind that through repetition can be strongly embedded. A great example of this is Coca Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ commercial where every year it’s massive truck delivers the joy of anticipation rather than a sweet, sugary drink.
Nostalgic Marketing isn’t always about getting us to remember happier times, it can also be used to resurrect old brands to a new group of consumers. As well as LPs, cassettes and Poloroid cameras, brands that were once seen as dinosaurs are making a comeback and being repurposed for a new generation.
Back in the 1970s, Old Spice toiletries became a cliche within advertising and was constantly parodied due to its images of hunky men surfing to the music of ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’’s Carmina Burana and the strapline, ‘the mark of a man.’ Through carefully targeted campaigns and a clever use of humour, the brand that was once seen as being uncool has now been repackaged for a new generation of millennial consumers whilst at the same time evoking warm fuzzy memories to an older clientele.
Here are our top tips on harnessing the power of Nostalgia Marketing
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