Various situations can activate memories of days gone by, something that businesses are beginning to take full advantage of with a marketing plan known as nostalgia marketing.

Memories, including smells, songs, items and events, can cause a wave of nostalgia from the past.

Business owners looking for new angles in their marketing efforts are utilizing a recollection of the past for their marketing strategy, giving it the name of “nostalgia marketing”.

You might not be aware of it, but nostalgia marketing is prevalent in today’s world. Head over to the grocery store and you’ll certainly encounter an item that has a tag featuring a vintage font along with individualized shapes which conjure up memories of a certain period of history.

Switch on the television and you’ll inevitably come across an advertisement featuring an actor from a show that has ended for quite a while now. Switch on the radio and you may come across a new group playing a guitar rhythm that was specifically crafted to bring you back to the past.

Sometimes it can be an inadvertent result of past situations, or something done on purpose that can be quite impactful. Marketing today heavily relies on nostalgia.

What is your reaction when you come across an advertisement for a limited edition menu item from a fast food restaurant that you enjoy? The McRib from McDonald’s and Chicken Fries from Burger King may not be the healthiest and most delicious food, but the thrill of their return is still notable.

Using elements or items from the past in your current marketing plan can evoke a special sentimental feeling in customers. Brands have increasingly been making use of the phrase “throwback” throughout the past few years.

Referring to something or someone from the past, throwback has been part of the English language since 1888. It is characterized as someone or something that resembles the way things were in the past or what would have been customary at a previous time.

Lately, professional sports teams have been releasing “Throwback Jerseys”, while a few supermarkets stock “Pepsi Throwback”, while people utilize social media sites on Thursdays to share nostalgic snaps from the past.

Insightful advertisers have determined that they are able to form an emotional bond with their target audience by invoking a sense of nostalgia with strategies like “nostalgic” materials or items.

The Power of Nostalgia

In 1688, the Swiss physician Johannes Hoffer defined nostalgia as a “neurological ailment of diabolical source” when referring to the Swiss soldiers who experienced homesickness.

Military doctors assumed that this event was caused by the constant ringing of cowbells in the Alps, which had supposedly impacted the soldiers’ eardrums and brain cells.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, nostalgia was typically described as an “immigrant psychosis,” a kind of “melancholia,” and a “mentally oppressive compulsive disorder.”

Research has demonstrated that no scientific connection exists between nostalgia and cowbells, demons, or psychological issues. Nevertheless, research has uncovered that nostalgia is an emotion that everyone experiences and is even found in young individuals of seven years old.

Studies have found that indulging in nostalgia can actually have beneficial effects.

A study led by Dr. Constantine Sedikides at the University of Southampton concluded that nostalgic feelings can help erase feelings of loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. Not only that, but it also produces a more generous attitude towards strangers and tolerance for those outside of one’s normal circle. Couples seem to have a greater bond and look more content when they reminisce about past experiences. When the temperature drops or people are in a chilly environment, nostalgia can help them to emotionally generate a sense of warmth.

According to Dr. Constantine, nostalgia is a feeling that individuals cultivate at least once a week and it brings an improved emotional state. Some other studies suggest that people experience nostalgia in order to manage difficult times and changes in their lives.

Research conducted by Dr. Clay Routledge, a Professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, found that those exposed to chart-topping songs, including the lyrics, were more prone to report that they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living” compared to a separate group not exposed to the musical stimuli.

For marketing campaigns, harnessing nostalgia can create an exceptionally strong emotional bond with their audience. If applied appropriately, it can be a very effective tool in an advertising campaign.

Brands like Pepsi and Nike have been reaching back to their earlier logos and designs, styling them with labels such as “retro” or “throwback”.

Nike puts out new renditions of their sneakers on a yearly basis, such as revisitations of the desired Jordan series, which are immediately snatched up by their admirers and shoe lovers. These shoes may be new, but they present a style inspired by a classic pair of sneakers from the 70s, 80s, or 90s.

In 2009, Pepsi introduced its “Throwback” range of soft drinks that use genuine pure cane sugar as the major sweetening agent, a practice which had not been done since the 1980s. The series was a tribute to the past and featured classic packaging and mascots for Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback.

In 2012, the Miller Lite brand had experienced a prolonged period of decreased sales over a three-year period, and had to take action.

Following a number of different design alterations, they chose to bring their 1975 design back with the help of a joint campaign for the film Anchorman 2, which was located in the 70’s during the timeframe when Miller Lite was most popular.

One year after they were unveiled, the two were set free and the promotion had massively revamped the brand merely through the usage of its celebrated white can design.

Nostalgia in Your Content

Incorporating nostalgia within your content can be achieved through:

  • Writing content in a fun way that will increase engagement and social sharing.
  • Showcasing a listing with a nostalgic angle.
  • Forging an emotional connection with your specific audience (baby boomers, Gen Xers).
  • Showcasing your company’s history – Ford does a lot of throwback campaigns and events where attendees can see old cars in person.

Buzzfeed is an organization that seems to be tapping into nostalgic feelings by utilizing it in its media. Buzzfeed makes money by producing content tailored to a particular market.

One example was an article named “14 Things Everyone Who Grew Up in Canada Will Remember.” This post listed out specifics only experienced by Canadians like the creation of the two-dollar coin, the Toonie.

An advertisement for McCain Deep ‘n’ Delicious cakes was found at the conclusion of the post, and was the brand associated with the publisher. This endeavour had good results because McCain was a highly established Canadian company and its product meshed nicely with the underlying message.

Another example would be the women’s lifestyle blog Bustle. The company put out a collection of “10 Summer Tunes from the 1990s That Will Absolutely Bring Back Memories.”

Bustle not only made a compilation of 90’s tunes to welcome summer but also integrated YouTube links into the article. This was successful because of its fun nature, and if you were eager to watch a particular video, you could simply do so by pressing the embedded video link.

Incorporating embedded videos is an excellent means to truly captivate your viewers. Having a list of music that people are reading about won’t have an impact on someone if they cannot hear the song or watch the video.

Adding media such as videos and images to your campaign will elevate it to an even higher level and allow for it to make an emotional association with the idea of nostalgia.

Come up with ways to incorporate the correct form of media that is most suited to the kind of sentimentality you are trying to express – if it is music, then incorporate the exact tunes. YouTube is a no-brainer for film and TV references.

Ways you can harness the power of nostalgia in marketing

In these unpredictable times, employing nostalgia marketing can provide a well-needed respite for your customers. However, this cannot be universally applied, as nostalgia advertising typically is tailored to a particular demographic, which can cause other age classes to be neglected.

It is essential to identify the target audience for your material and apply data-driven plans to reach your goals.

So how can you achieve this? These five strategies will aid you in making an impact and stirring up enthusiasm in your clients with a marketing plan that they will retain and recall.

1. Research and listen to your customers

At this stage, you should have a distinct understanding of your desired demographic. It’s time to find out what their most intense desires are.

This can be accomplished by utilizing social listening, which is a method of discovering what your clients are discussing on the web. What conversations are they having? What are they reminiscing about?

By going through this process, you can pinpoint the experiences that are especially dear to your customers and will have a positive effect. Utilize any data you acquire in your sentimentality promotional effort.

Comprehending the buyers’ persona will aid your marketing squad in concocting narratives that your clients will participate in and will bring you massive favor with your patrons.

2. Be timely and accurate

Marketing is incredibly competitive, so it’s necessary to give it your all and be prompt.

Take advantage of current trends, but don’t prioritize keeping up with the times over producing accurate work – otherwise, you could miss what your customers require and what your business stands for. It is absolutely necessary that your marketing strategy which draws on fond memories is consistent with your target audience.

Playing music can bring back memories for your customers, creating a feeling of nostalgia. Investigations have demonstrated that hearing particular tunes stirs up feelings of fond memories. But you have to do it right.

If you want to connect with millennials, look to the trends of the 1990s or early 2000s. You shouldn’t pick Justin Bieber for an advertisement that has a ’90s vibe; instead, choose Nirvana or Radiohead. And for Gen X, nothing beats the 80s.

It is important to be aware of who you are writing for in correlation to the studies that have been conducted. There is no purpose in being the first to a confrontation without the necessary tools to succeed.

3. A new take on something old

Draw upon internal sources of encouragement and reflect upon your prior accomplishments that have benefited your business. Take former methods, but don’t just copy them; blend in the new fads and language.

This is a terrific technique that can make contact with your current shoppers, as well as attract an entirely fresh group. This can be seen as an opportunity to challenge old values and ideals your brand has supported by introducing recent and new products and ideas.

3. Keep your method of delivery fresh

The most effective way of delivering your message and reaching your goals is via social media. You need to make use of the social media platform that your intended market spends the majority of their time on in order to get the most out of your efforts.

Millennials and Gen X primarily utilize Facebook, the social networking site they are more accustomed to, for the majority of their time. You could also make use of Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to effectively communicate with Generation Z.

Be sure to incorporate relevant hashtags when posting, like #ThrowbackThursdays or #FlashbackFridays. Doing this will increase the visibility of your posts.

4. Evoke emotions

Go back to the days of your customers’ childhoods and teenage years to find things that will evoke nostalgia and bring back fond memories.

The primary purpose of nostalgia advertising is to summon recollections and emotions in your clients that urge them to buy your items or interact with your posts on social networks.

Morris Holbrook and Robert Schindler discovered through their 1994 investigation of customer patterns that people had a tendency to connect to films and music from their early life.

Remember to be creative with your campaigns. You may not have permission to utilize soundtracks, characters, and so forth, but you can make your campaigns artistic by using different fonts and adding various other elements.

Example of a nostalgia marketing campaign

Numerous companies have been successful in utilizing the strength of remembering the past in their advertising, and there are countless teachings that can be obtained from this. A brand that pays close attention to what its customers are saying and responding to is one that can create a successful nostalgia-based marketing strategy.

You can make an effective marketing plan by applying several of the techniques mentioned above and taking some inspiration from the successful campaigns presented below.


Coca-Cola has a long tradition of marketing which evokes nostalgia, and some may think that they are unsurpassed in this area. The iconic Coca-Cola brand can be seen everywhere from its classic print ads to nostalgic throwback imagery on all forms of media, including limited-edition bottles from the early 1990s.

In 2014, a request made on social media by devotees implored Coke to bring back Surge, a flavor that had been discontinued in the 90s. Coca-Cola agreed to the request but capitalized on the opportunity by having a small amount of Surges available only on Amazon.

Without a doubt, this increased people’s desire for the beverage before it was available throughout the country. This is a prime illustration of heeding the fans and furnishing them with what they are asking for.

Re-launching Surge not only allowed Coca-Cola to keep their existing customers content, but it also presented them with a chance to expose the flavor to new customers, thus keeping their reputation as a trusted brand.