The Nostalgia Effect

Why Nostalgia Marketing Works

What Is Nostalgia Marketing?

Believe it or not, nostalgia marketing is everywhere. Turn on the TV, visit YouTube, walk down an aisle of a store, listen to Spotify, or look at print advertising and chances are you’ll come across something you remember from the past that connects with you.

Essentially, nostalgia marketing aims to capture your audience’s attention - and emotions - by tapping into positive connections from the past. It makes customers feel good - and we know that it works.

Hit TV shows such as "Mad Men" inspired 1960s fashion and design trends worldwide. "Stranger Things" paid tribute to 1980s pop culture - and became a massive hit for Netflix. Cereals like Count Chocula and Frankenberry line the grocery store aisles at Halloween and sell out quickly. In fact, even mac-and-cheese has evolved from its former status as a kids meal to a trendy dish that is 550% more likely to appear on restaurant menus today compared to 10 years ago (Horizons).

Here are a few reasons why nostalgia marketing is so effective

It Makes People Feel Good

Research conducted by the University of Southampton has found that nostalgia can actually be good for you. According to the researchers, nostalgia can “counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety” as well as conjures up positive emotions. Additionally, other studies have discovered that nostalgia has helped people cope with stressful moments and life transitions. (New York Times)

Nostalgia Has A Strong Emotional Impact

Emotional engagement with marketing and products is an extremely powerful way to attract and establish brand loyalty. Similar research shows a customer is more likely to respond favorably to your ad if it triggers a positive emotional response - especially a nostalgic one. For marketers, this means nostalgia can have an extremely powerful emotional hold on their customers. (ResearchGate)

Nostalgia Inspires People to Spend More Money

Studies show that people will pay more for something to feel good, especially when it is caused by feeling Nostalgic. Their studies also show that nostalgia is an extremely effective shortcut to connecting positive emotions from past experiences to consumers making decisions. (BBC)

Nostalgia Can Boost Positive Consumer Opinions

Research has also shown brands that capitalize on their heritage or have a relevant connection to "the good old days" through nostalgia marketing have are more trusted and develop stronger brand loyalty. In fact, research published in Forbes magazine has shown nostalgia marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach millennials. (New York Times)

How to Use Nostalgia Marketing?

If you're a brand with a rich heritage, you have a story to tell. Classic brands like Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, John Deere, Lionel Trains, Osh-Kosh B'gosh, and Radio Flyer have emotionally connected with people over generations and are part of American History. Whether it's marking significant anniversaries or celebrating their history, these companies have a rich heritage and supporting content to capture the hearts of consumers through nostalgia marketing. So if you're a brand with a history, nostalgia marketing can be one of the most powerful ways to connect with your customers.

But even newer brands and companies can capitalize on the powerful effects of nostalgia marketing. By associating your brand's values with relevant historical celebrations like Black History Month, the invention of the computer, or the Apollo moon landing, you can make a stronger, deeper connection to your customers that would be more difficult to do with typical marketing programs.

Nostalgia Marketing We've Produced

Turner Classic Movies Pin-Up Calendar

One of Turner Classic Movies most successful B2B brand activation and customer appreciation tools was their 1999 "Pin-Up" calendar. The calendar won prestigious entertainment industry marketing awards, over 20 international design awards, and was written about in the New York Times entertainment section. It became a cherished and coveted item among cable industry affiliates and media contacts.

See More in Case Studies >

PowerPuff Girls 10th Anniversary DVD

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the PowerPuff Girls, Cartoon Network released all 7 seasons of the show in a special DVD Box Set. To recapture the magic of the show, we stayed true to the brand's original 1990s aesthetic as well as adding retro video artifacts to the visuals used for packaging and onscreen navigation menus.

See More in Packaging>

Superman Style Guide

When DC Comics needed an update for their Superman brand we decided to go old-school as a tribute to his 75-year heritage. Also, in a digital age, the retro-style Daily Planet newspaper set itself apart from most style guides being provided online. This fun, tactile, novelty aspect of the guide made it an extremely successful marketing tool and a collectible piece for licensees.

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Persuasion Bureau 3D View-Master Portfolio

As part of our 2016 branding campaign and studio launch, we created a retro-styled, custom packaged View-Master to highlight our best work. Samples of our work were reproduced in color interacting with vintage black and white 3-D environments. It was shipped to only 25 prospects and was directly responsible for over $70K in sales over a two-year period.

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PC&E Customer Appreciation Marketing

From nostalgia inspired customer appreciation events and SWAG to facilities decor, we've helped Atlanta-based film industry production equipment and studios company use nostalgia to emotionally connect with their target audience, grow, and maintain a high level of brand loyalty.

See More Recent Work >

Cartoon Network Retro TV Trays

As a B2B holiday Customer appreciation gift, we designed a set of retro-style TV trays so cable affiliates and media partners can dine in vintage style while watching their favorite cartoon. Were they a hit? Of course.

See More in Funbelievable >

The Take Away

Using nostalgia as part of your marketing strategy is a perfect fit for brands and products that have a rich heritage and deep emotional connections with customers in the past. It can be used as a shortcut to influencing purchases, enhancing customer engagement, and building stronger brand loyalty.

But even companies and products without a long history can capitalize on nostalgia marketing by associating themselves with past events and time periods. The key is that there needs to be a relevant connection that your customers will understand.

Want more retro fun? Play our retro matchbook cover matching game.

Memory Matching Game

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Persuasion Bureau is a boutique creative agency based in Atlanta Georgia. They are experts in nostalgia marketing and specialize in brand activation, packaging, and promotional products for companies that value high-level creative solutions requiring novelty and fun to reach their target audiences.

Retro art and design