Nostalgia · Things / Products

#TBT: Do Not Underestimate the Power of Nostalgia

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It seems to happen more and more these days. You’re out at a store, focused on buying the latest and greatest . . . and there it is. Right in front of you.

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Source: Giphy

You haven’t thought about it in years, but when that wave of nostalgia crashes over you and you are suddenly swept out into a sea of youthful memories, you immediately forget the new and relish in a celebration of the old, the vintage, retro, the classic.

Here.  Take my money.

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Source: Giphy

Nostalgia marketing has hit the big time in recent years, with brands from every sector looking to tap into the hearts and memories of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s (and even 00’s) kids who are looking to reconnect with their past.

And it works. Those nostalgic feelings that companies create establish a powerful connection between their product and your past.

McDonald’s gets it.

So does Apple.

There is no doubt. Nostalgia sells.

But what happens when a company forgets about nostalgia? When it forgets about their customers’ emotional connection and history with a product? When it messes with perfection? When a company changes its product and its customers say, “Um, yeah, we don’t want it better, we just want it back the way it was.”

new_coke_canWell, that’s exactly what happened when Coca-Cola replaced its original Coke formula with New Coke—Coca-Cola’s attempt to better compete with Pepsi. Apparently, taste tests showed that people preferred the sweeter taste of New Coke. But Coke forgot about the emotional connection people had with the original formula.  It was, as many would say, one of the all-time biggest marketing blunders in history.

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 Source: Giphy

So on this Throwback Thursday, go ahead. Have a Coke and a smileAnd don’t forget the power of nostalgia.

What products do you buy because of an emotional connection ? What products did you connect with in the past that you think should make a comeback?  What products will you be happy never to see again? What product would you be devastated to see disappear?

Let us know in the comments!

New Coke Can Image: JetiJonez used under license CC by 3.0.

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45 thoughts on “#TBT: Do Not Underestimate the Power of Nostalgia

  1. I love this post…you’re preachin’ to the choir as far as nostalgia goes 🙂 As far as products go, a few weeks ago, I freaked out with delight when presented with a box of Pink Elephant popcorn,,,that is, until I tasted it and it tasted nothing like the version I had as a child…hoping to be graciously-disappointed, I didn’t let my best friend in on the secret….thanks for another wonderful post 🙂

    1. Pink elephant popcorn sounds so delightfully whimsical… but I have never heard of it! Things never taste quite the same as they did when we were children, but the memories of those things certainly are quite delicious. 🙂

  2. Those animal crackers with pink icing. Cracker jacks too. I read a post somewhere this week that the 80’s will be “in” again in 2017 and I had to wonder is it really a good idea to bring back jellies, pegged jeans and aqua net?

    This was a great post, and yes New Coke has to be the one thing they teach in “What not do in Marketing”.

    1. There are some things from the 80’s that will be great to have come back . . . but maybe not Aqua Net. 🙂 Glad you liked the post and hope you can follow along on my weekly Everyday Nostalgia posts.

  3. This is a fun post! I was drinking a coke when I read this too 🙂 I am a sucker for anything 80’s, I wish they would bring back those little plastic charm bracelet things. Those were so fun.

  4. This Christmas we were reminded of Trolls! Our nephew is really into them- it’s fun to see them making a comeback and it reminds us of our fav toys!

  5. This is a super insightful blog! I’d never really thought so much about nostalgia in terms of marketing, so it opened my eyes to a whole bunch of new techniques I can use in my own business. I do believe an emotional connection plays a huge part in my own purchases, for sure!

  6. Thanks Arien for commenting! Yes, so many companies use nostalgia to create emotional connections. Once you have an emotional connection with a product, it’s difficult to switch to a competing product, even if the competing product may be better!

  7. This is a great point! I 100% agree that nostalgia plays an important role in the things I purchase, but I’ve never tried to apply it as a marketing strategy. I also was surprised to see that Coca-Cola was the one who made the misstep, considering they are usually so great at using nostalgia and polar bears to sell their products 😉

  8. I definitely think nostalgia plays a part in things that I purchase – even more so as a parent now, how I want to share a piece of my childhood with my son.

  9. Love this! Just yesterday we took the oldest out for ice cream and my husband said he was reminded of doing the same thing with his parents when he was little. Little moments like that are so great. For me, its Clearly Canadian. They need to bring that back full time and not even think about changing it! Ahhh!

  10. Oh my gosh, yes. Those sour belts?!?! Bring back so many memories. I wish the company who used to create Tamagotchis would sell their gadgets again! I was obsessed

  11. Nostalgia definitely sells. My husband and I took our boys to watch Captain Underpants because we both loved the novels when we were kids. We even bought the first book too and plan to purchase all of the books in the series.

  12. I never knew that Coke tried a new recipe! Silly Coke, why fix what’s not broken?
    My husband and I were on vacation in Cape Cod last week, and we had a MAJOR hit of nostalgia. We were getting enormous ice cream cones – as you do on a beach vacation – and the shop had a GIANT selection of penny candy. It was all of the fun treats I used to love as a kid, from the little sugar dots on the strip of white paper, to fun dips, to those wax bottles with some weird sugary syrup in it. We went a little crazy filling our bag with candy and reminiscing about the treats…some lived up to memory (sour gummy worms!) some were pretty gross – (I’m looking at you weird wax bottles with sugar goo). As always, love this post!

  13. Interesting topovmc! Last Christmas I found an old school Atari game set and I bought it for my brother because we used to sneak off to our friends’ houses to play hours of frogger 🙂 it definitely brought back some wonderfully nostalgic memories for both of us. I didn’t realize that about Coke, but love that the people have spoken and they preferred the old formula. Some things just shouldn’t be touched 🙂

  14. I remember when that happened with Coke! I didn’t think my mom was going to survive that one! LOL I have loved seeing my daughter playing with all the toys that they have brought back from my childhood especially My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake! 😉

  15. It’s so true! As a marketer, it’s so hard to know when your customers want the latest innovation and improvement, and when they want things exactly the way they’ve always been. That’s the importance of listening to customer feedback, I guess!

  16. Anything ’90’s-related always makes me nostalgic. I’d love if Giga Pets and those types of things came back. I remember being obsessed with getting the special Salem (the cat from Sabrina) one. When I think back on that and all my parents went through so that I could finally get it (we drove to so many different toy stores), all I can think is they must have loved me a lot. 😂 Or maybe they were just afraid I’d ask for a real cat if I couldn’t get my “digital” one.

  17. This has happened in sports, too. Specifically, with the Denver Broncos. When they revealed new uniforms, fans noticed the distinctive D was missing, and assumed it meant the team intended to move!

    It took some getting used to, the darker blue, the new design. It’s the only design Camdyn, my youngest, knows for a team we both consider our favorite. It’ll be nostalgic to her someday, the same way the old logo was to me.

    When the Broncos unveiled a mashup uniform of the past and present? I thought that was pretty cool, too.

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