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Nostalgia Marketing

Katelyn Mauro February 1, 2019 Branding & Design, Marketing

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Why do companies use vintage elements in their marketing and advertising instead of always coming up with new material? They are feeding directly into the saying “history repeats itself”. Well, I can tell you that history will repeat itself because companies are using nostalgia to their advantage to fuel their sales. Nostalgia is a feeling that everyone identifies with and understands; that feeling of longing and wishing for things of the past overcomes us at the sight of a vintage ad or upon hearing an old rock cover song. It takes us back to better, easier, and more wholesome times and we desperately want to relive that. It would only make sense for companies to use this feeling to grab the attention of consumers and make them emotionally connect with their brand or their products. Using nostalgia in advertising has a two-for-one advantage when it comes to target market. Younger generations don’t have that sense of longing for the past yet in their lives, so this strategy serves as brand new content for them. The material seems so fresh and exciting, when in reality, elements have been reused and reapplied.

Fashion trends are constantly repeating themselves and I’m not sure if people are buying into these trends because they once enjoyed them as a younger person or if they are too young to remember. Clothing companies are great at channeling fashion styles from the past but incorporating today’s elements to keep it current. Lately, there has been a fusion of the 70’s and 90’s era mixed with current styles. Aside from the decade-specific wear, vintage and thrift fashion has exploded within the last decade. The term “hipster” might come to mind when I describe vintage rock and roll t-shirts, patched up jean jackets, and skinny pants. Large retail stores will now carrying these items that look like you just casually rummaged through your local Good Will.

Movies and TV are also nostalgic money makers. Every time I go to the movies and sit through the 20 minutes of coming attractions, I swear these movie producers are running out of original ideas because they just keep creating spin-offs and sequels. However, people love this stuff! The new Star Wars and Jurassic World movies have made a huge splash in the movie and consumer products world. People will buy into this stuff even if it’s been remade multiple times before. These movies remind them of the original and they want to compare and evoke those memories of the past.

The Netflix original series Stranger Things is another huge money-making ruse. From the creepy 80’s opening credits song to the vintage walkie talkies and Eggo waffles, this show has so many little snippets of life back in the 80’s. The setting, costumes, and props really resonate with a lot of Gen X and older millennial viewers. Stranger Things merchandise such as costumes, Pop Figures, apparel, and not to mention Eggo waffle sales, have since skyrocketed.

Technology is guiding the retro/vintage direction as well and consumers are loving it. Record players and Polaroid cameras are now on sale in Urban Outfitters and Newbury Comics. A lot of consumers still feel the importance of owning a tangible book or magazine rather than having a fully stocked digital library. Amazon has opened brick and mortar stores because of this mindset. Instagram even plays a roll in our emotions by normalizing nostalgia with the #TBT or Throw Back Thursday.

Lifestyles of many people today focus around enhancing their daily life by incorporating a wholesome or novel aspect. The new thing for consumers is to seek out speak-easy themed bars that bring an essence of the era as well as hand crafted cocktails created by bartenders who have spent years fine-tuning their recipes. Farmer’s markets and farm-to-table restaurants are huge because they promote organic food which is how eating used to be before large scale farming and GMO products. Every day consumer goods have also changed whether it’s their ingredients or new-to-world products. Beard oil being one example, men’s facial hair care has really expanded making any ordinary Joe feel like a modern gentleman. People care about their quality of life and the value of good wholesome products.

Design is also something that can be modern and alluring but contain nods to older or vintage styles. Architecture is enhancing its design with 1930’s Art Deco but still keeping the modern structural elements. Most of us weren’t alive in the ‘30s so it is so cool to feel what it must have been like during this art movement.

Hand lettering is a huge trend going on right now in the art and graphic design world. Rather than settling with our standard computer font book, artists have been exploring hand lettering as a more creative way of design. This brings us back to the old pencil and paper days of design but the finished product looks hand crafted and so well thought out.

Other graphic design elements that have been popular over the last few years are mustaches, monocles, top hats, aged parchment, and grunge effects. The perfect example of this old-timey look is Not Your Father’s Root Beer. The brand evokes a classic, handcrafted beverage with a modern twist.

Incorporating vintage elements and fusing them with a clean and modern look may just be the key to your company’s boost in sales. For your next campaign, consider using a certain color scheme or graphic elements that nod to a specific era of the past. Maybe it’s a font choice that would take your ideas from computer-generated to new and creative. Whatever your need may be, in order to boost sales, nostalgia is in and everyone wants that feel-good feeling. Have you ever heard the phrase sex sells? Well I say nostalgia is not too far behind!


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