May 6, 2020

Looking Back to Move Forward: The Rise of Nostalgia

Ariane Laezza

Have you been thinking about the past lately? Getting lost in old photos? Watching your favourite retro movies (helloooo Disney+ !) or even making traditional family recipes you literally have never tried making before??


If you’re feeling all, “they don’t make things like they used to…”, then you’re not alone.


Studies indicate that experiencing distress, or “negative mood” is a common trigger of nostalgia and that these distressing experiences can include loneliness, boredom, and “self-discontinuity,” all of which are now daily norms as we self-isolate in our homes and watch the 24-hour news coverage of the pandemic.


Self-discontinuity is defined as, “a sense of disruption or disjointedness between one’s past and present self,” and can be felt when we simply no longer recognize our life “as we know it.” Realizing just how fragile life can be can force us to face our own mortality, triggering fear, anxiety and an overwhelming need to feel like ourselves again.


It’s no surprise that we may seek moments and experiences from our past that make us feel good; the way we were before things went to shit, so-to-speak. A simpler time.


While the scientific community is still trying to figure out the exact neuro-dynamics of nostalgia, from a marketing perspective we do know that images and sounds from the past can form favourable attitudes about products. Essentially, every time we remember an event from the past, it not only triggers the same emotions from that earlier memory but can amplify them even further. So, by associating products or services with these heart-warming nostalgic memories, we link the two together, creating a connection that leaves a lasting impact in the hearts and minds of consumers.


Memory shaping is an active process, so keeping your brand top-of-mind, especially these days, is vitally important if one wants to remain relevant in a post-COVID world. By striving to make authentic, emotional connections with customers, being present, unique and consistently offering value, brands can actively play a role in the “future nostalgia” of their story; securing their place in the future memories of their customers. Someone ask Dua Lipa what her take is on this…..


 Memories related to music, cars, movies and food live on forever in peoples’ minds, helping them feel connected to their pasts and better suited to face the future. Exploring content strategies that include retro footage, vintage designs, classic music or traditional recipes is a great way to trigger the positive feelings of nostalgia with your consumers, helping to connect with them on an emotional level. On the practical side, by pulling and recirculating retro content, brands can also avoid the struggles around Production under the current social distancing rules; most of which has been halted for the time being. Saving on production fees can free up marketing budgets to be used in areas like Influencer Marketing; utilizing trusted voices to push positive brand messaging to their fans, who are themselves in need of some feel-good moments to help get through this uncertain and isolating time.



So, no matter how “lonely” we may feel these days, incorporating nostalgia into your content strategy can help alleviate negative feelings felt by your customers in real time, connecting you to them on an emotional level and securing your place in their future memories. Now THAT is a powerful thing to remember.


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