Nostalgia in Sales & Marketing: #TBT

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With these words ringing in your ears, it should be crucial for brands and marketers to understand the wants and desires of these dubbed millennials, to ensure any outbound messaging resonates and inspires action.

So, what do we know about these mysterious millennial folk? Luckily, we covered exactly that for you in a previous article, so you can tell your Generation Z from your neighbourhood millennial. The facts are this:

It’s fair to say that, generally, they’re considered an incredibly forward-thinking generation; always the first to take-up new, exciting technologies.

But like anything in marketing, there’s a catch. The young audience just can’t quite let go of the past. Be it 90’s chokers in the fashion world, Pokémon Go in the tech world or the resurrection of classic Nintendo games in the gaming industry, the last 12 months have felt like a blast from the past. An example I myself am very aware of is the astronomical rise of vintage clothing shops. For example, Dukes Cupboard, which came to life as a market stall selling second-hand designer clobber, has recently moved into a new retail space in the heart of Soho, London.

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Whilst not everyone is going to revert to fashioning 1990s, army-camo Stone Island coats because (a) they’re unlikely to afford such a luxury and/or (b) it’s just not their vibes, aligning marketing strategies and tactics with emotion is a proven vantage point, and can be particularly invaluable for millennials - who seemingly innate a lust for times gone by. The rags to riches tale of Dukes Cupboard is by no means a lucky break, as anyone who strolls around Manchester’s Northern Quarter will realise - an area particularly popular with the younger generation, and renowned for its retro roots.

Crashing into The 21st Century

An industry that has seen nostalgia prevail is, of course, the gaming industry.

Atari, an arcade games company who began producing and selling interactions of consoles circa the 1970’s, has this week announced the release of an “all new” Ataribox. In an email to its fans, Atari stated “our objective is to create something new, that stays true to our heritage, while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.” This follows Nintendo’s plans to release the supremely popular SNES Classic Mini Console.

1996 marked the birth of Crash Bandicoot - Playstation’s answer to the global-gaming mega star that was Nintendo’s Super Mario. For those of us lucky enough to have owned a PS1 (or a PlayStation as it was known at the time), we’ll remember Crash as the super-addictive game that brought hours of finger bashing fun to a world of TNT, flying fish and fire-breathing frogs.

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Fast-forward 20 odd years, and Sony has re-released the three original Crash games as part of a single disc package - the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. The games use the same engine mechanics and reflex testing game play as the originals, cashing in on that nostalgic value that takes us back to being 10 years old.

Resonating with Millennials

How come these nostalgic-centric campaigns tug on the heartstrings of the younger audience? Well, there are multiple speculations on exactly why - from marketers to psychologists - but here are just a few theories:

  • It makes us feel good. Obviously, I know, but reliving positive memories, icons and activities from the past gives that warm-fuzzy feeling inside.
  • We care about it. Following on from the first point, we’re more likely to care about something from the past, particularly if it’s a positive memory. If I see a product or an advertisement that reminds me of being 8 years old in my nan’s kitchen, I’m more likely to act.
  • It makes brands feel more human. Who knew Coca-Cola wants to take a trip down memory lane with me? Brand messaging that references particular times and eras forges meaningful connections and relationships between the past and present.

  • It’s a welcome respite from the modern world. We’ve seen all the high-tech ads, the new approaches to marketing, the introduction of VR and AR in mainstream marketing, but sometimes, the best tactics are the oldest in the book.

So, should I?

As with any marketing campaign, authenticity should be at its core. Brands should only consider incorporating nostalgic messaging into campaigns if it naturally fits in with the brand guidelines and history. Creating an emotional hook, of course, comes with its risks. A start-up company, for example, might not have much footing in appearing nostalgic, whereas brands with an already rich history are more believable when talking about the 80’s or 90’s.

Monitoring activity, such as the #TBT (Throwback Thursday) hashtag across social media allows you to keep an eye on and take advantage of trends. Maybe people are suddenly really into a particular fashion or figure, as it’s been appearing quite often every Thursday now for the past month…

With over 36 million posts live on Instagram using the hashtag, there’s plenty of nostalgia for you to sink your teeth into.

Final Thought

We all get sentimental sometimes and, if done right, taking the nostalgic angle with your marketing and sales tactics can really strike a chord with your audience. With marketing as a whole, timely and relevant campaigns are the most successful, with authenticity being a huge deciding factor on whether or not you can charm your audience.

Have you been ployed into buying a product because of nostalgic marketing tactics? Tweet us your favourite examples! @FastWebMedia.

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