Trendsetters: What is Nostalgia Marketing?

a go-to guide to incorporate it into your marketing strategy

By Bella Hales

Friday, 21st of April 2023

Nostalgia is described as ‘an affectionate feeling you have for the past, especially for a particularly happy time.’ 

When it comes to marketing, nostalgia is typically used to evoke consumers’ emotions by tapping into their fond memories and associations with the past to build trust for new campaigns. Examples of brands that have successfully used nostalgia in their marketing strategy include Coca-Cola, who brought back its favoured “Hilltop” ad from the 1970s; Nintendo who released the NES Classic Edition, a mini version of its iconic video game console from the 1980s and more recently Supreme who collaborated with Tamagotchi – the quintessential 90s toy.

The latest nostalgic trend to take 2023 by storm is low-fi and old-school looking content.

Remember the camcorder? Well, it’s back and @Kyliejenner is one of many well known faces to have jumped on the bandwagon and used it to create social content. Whether it be in a shoot teasing her upcoming Kylie Cosmetics makeup collection or a post exhibiting her Oscar’s outfit, the low-fi content of both evoke positive memories of the old-school home-movies of the 1980s.

Some may question why, in an age where technology is at its height, low quality content is being favoured. Here at THE FIFTH, we believe it’s down to the ongoing craving audiences have for authenticity and honesty from content creators. Posting low-fi content almost reverts social media back to the old ways of capturing content, where there wasn’t the false reality of filters and edited images, making creators seem more relatable and trustworthy. 

A further example of a creator using nostalgia successfully in their content is @Fajereats, a food content creator from Kuwait who is well known for her mukbang content. In a recent collaboration with The Cheesecake Factory, Fajer created one of her classic mukbang style videos, but used the caption to reflect on her childhood memories of the restaurant. Her Reel is evidence that nostalgia sells. According to Corq, the Reel resulted in an engagement rate of 2.7%, which is higher than her usual 2.46%.  

@thefifthagency All the nostalgia 🙌🏼 check out our new trendsetters piece about nostalgia marketing on our website #nostalgia #nostalgiamarketing #officetok #london #agencytiktok ♬ original sound - Sam Munro

So, why should brands look to incorporate nostalgia into their marketing efforts?

By tapping into shared experiences and memories, brands can create a sense of community among their customers. According to research by Wildschut et al. (2006), this sense of community and connection places people in a positive mood, which can make them more willing to spend money.

Nostalgia evokes strong emotions. It can transport people back in time and trigger memories of happy experiences. By tapping into these positive emotions, brands can create a strong connection with their customers which can lead to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

It sets brands apart. In a crowded market, it can be challenging for brands to stand out. By leveraging nostalgia, brands can differentiate themselves and create a unique selling proposition that resonates with their target audience.

It appeals to multiple generations. Nostalgia is not limited to a specific age group with people of all ages having fond memories of the past. Therefore, using nostalgia in marketing can help brands reach a broader audience.

It can be cost-effective. Nostalgia marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Brands can use existing assets, such as old logos or advertising campaigns, and repurpose them in their marketing efforts. This can be a cost-effective way to tap into the power of nostalgia.  

Overall, nostalgia marketing is a powerful tool that brands will continue to use to create a sense of familiarity and comfort to connect with their audiences and drive actual results.