Though it is a perennially popular trend, nostalgia is having a moment. The huge success of Pokémon Go, the sudden proliferation of old fashioned sweet shops, the fact that #TBT (throwback Thursday) is one of the top trending hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, the swamping of your Facebook timeline with Timehop posts, the recent spate of remake films (…I could go on) is testament to this. The nostalgia trend is officially hot property.
So, why should brands be ‘doing’ nostalgia?
1. Nostalgia is feel-good. Full stop
Studies show that the majority of consumers view the past with rose-tinted glasses and are ready to spend on things that help re-create the feelings they felt back then. By connecting consumers to their pasts, brands stir up nostalgia and can effectively copy and paste consumers’ positive feelings toward a time gone by onto the brand.
2. Nostalgia is personal in an impersonal world
Brands can use the positive emotion that nostalgia creates to forge an emotional bond with consumers. This connection can be used to communicate a personal, intimate message that stands out amid the jungle of impersonal messages being received by consumers.
3. Nostalgia is dependable in an unstable climate
During times of economic or political instability, consumers tend to feel uncertain. Nostalgia has the ability to connect people to a happy yesteryear. Even if it was never perfect, it always has the virtue of being completely predictable. Brands can tap into this need for stability and dependability by referencing the time the nostalgia is centred on.
Put simply, nostalgia makes people feel good. And people will spend on what makes them feel good.
Scent is the biggest trigger of nostalgia
The smell of freshly cut grass; marshmallows over a bonfire; the perfume your grandma always wore… all of these things, and a myriad more can conjure up vivid memories and feelings like they were only yesterday.
All kinds of things can trigger that feeling of nostalgia, but smell is a particularly powerful nostalgia trigger. “Our sense of smell is believed to affect 75% of our daily emotions” (Scent Marketing, SEJ). More than any other sense, smell can evoke powerful, emotional memories…Whether it’s a seaside holiday, a visit to a fairground or a walk through a forest, suddenly smelling a particular scent can suddenly take us right back there, re-creating the whole sensory experience.
Some examples of brands pioneering scent nostalgia:
Airpure have cleverly made nostalgia engaging, encouraging consumers to like and share on social media, thereby getting involved in the process of deciding which ice lolly air freshener will be released next.
The vaping market is ripe for nostalgia marketing… the smell of popcorn whisks you immediately to the dark cool of the movie theatre with your friends on a Saturday afternoon. And the childhood favourite flavours of the Dinner Lady vape liquid transport you back to the heady days of playground highs and lows.
Who wouldn’t want a candle that smells like chocolate, peanut butter or even “S’mores” round the campfire? Not only can consumers indulge in a bit of healthy nostalgia, they can enjoy a guilty pleasure without any of the guilt!
Remember that feeling of being 3ft tall and staring up at the seemingly endless display of rainbow coloured Jelly Bellys? Sure you do. Jelly Belly have exploited their extensive range of colours and flavours and made something entirely unexpected yet utterly desirable. It will take you right back to that moment.
Top tips on how to stretch your brand into nostalgia:
- Identify the special moments in time that consumers crave and work out how this can translate through to your brand – which era, occasions, types of products, people, places remind them of their happy pasts?
- Be brave and stretch the visual positioning of your nostalgia innovations so they really embody the nostalgic experience you want to create
- Avoid the temptation to think of nostalgia as a long-term strategy – treat it like a limited edition or range extension
- Finally, you need a strong core brand equity to stretch into nostalgia. It’s impossible to hark back to the past if the past is not well-known, recognised or remembered with fondness