As a reaction to the isolating and dark times that Coronavirus started in 2020, consumers reflected and yearned for happier times past, resulting in a boom of nostalgia marketing practices from all types of large enterprises to small businesses across the globe.

Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College, explains why marketing ads have been particularly nostalgic in the previous two years, “people seek solace in nostalgia when experiencing loss, worry, solitude, or uncertainty. Nostalgia makes people hopeful about the future”.

Companies that provide nostalgic experiences encourage customers to connect with their brand on an emotional level. And, given that 68 per cent of consumers are willing to spend more for a product that emotionally or personally appeals to them, it’s no surprise that nostalgia plays a significant role in many marketing campaigns.

Troubled consumers will flock to companies that offer a link to their cheerier pasts in an uncertain world that feels flipped upside down. But since the distressing times of Covid were the primary catalyst for the success of nostalgia marketing, as the world begins to open again, will this marketing strategy still be relevant? Or will it be lost to the masses just like the population’s dying love for face masks?

What Is Nostalgia Marketing and How Does It Work?

On a cold day, nostalgia marketing is the equivalent of your favourite soup in a steaming mug. In our world, where everything must be click-able, binge-able, bigger, and quicker than ever before, nostalgic marketing transports users to a simpler era when simple pleasures make everything feel okay.

While nostalgia marketing isn’t new, its strategies have improved and grown recently. Fortunately for start-ups, “the past” does not have to imply decades ago. Instead, the pandemic reduced our nostalgia loop, with the “good old days” potentially referencing any point in the last few years.

Understanding what motivates your target, thinking about how they were raised, and where their innermost emotional receptors genuinely lay is the secret to nostalgia marketing. A little research goes a long way, and by digging into your consumers’ generational breakdown, you may discover a lot more about what makes them tick.

From Netflix and Bacardi to Airbnb and Adobe, a business can utilise a well-thought-out nostalgia marketing strategy regardless of your industry. For a better picture of nostalgia marketing, let’s look at one case study, in particular, Burger King!

Case Study: Burger King Returns to its Old Marketing

One of the companies that rebranded recently to remind their customers of the “better times” before the pandemic was Burger King. The company’s typography has been updated for the first time in 20 years, with a vintage design inspired by the Burger King logo from 1969 to 1999. The nostalgic style and feel intends to transport people to happier times.

In an interview with Burger King’s agency, creative director Lisa Smith said, “We explored a number of other design landscapes, but kept returning back to the brand’s original iconic logo between 1969 and 1994 when Burger King looked its best.”


There’s more to it than a new logo. The brand’s new visual identity is built on a colour palette inspired by iconic retro Burger King menu items such as burgers, salads, and fries.

If you’re a big brand with decades of market popularity like Burger King, then nostalgia marketing is a piece of cake for you. As according to a recent survey, most individuals enjoy listening to old songs, watching old TV episodes, and seeing old movies that bring back memories from their childhood.

Plus, retro designs and packaging can represent “longevity” and “reliability” for organisations with a long marketing history.

Burger King’s past logo, commercials, packaging, and other marketing materials, as a result, has an impact on its audience in some way. Recreating and employing these nostalgic elements triggers your customer’s reminiscence for your brand, causing them to buy from you again “for old times’ sake”. In addition, it raises the likelihood of increasing client trust and brand memory.

Packaging, restaurant items, menu boards, uniforms, restaurant signs, and décor are all part of the redesign currently being implemented in Burger King restaurants worldwide.


Will Nostalgia Marketing Continue to Be Popular in 2022?

One school of thinking believes that nostalgia marketing has been so successful recently because everyday consumers long for the simpler times as our lives become more frenetic, complex, and responsibility filled. The lens of nostalgia often makes products and services seem more grounded and hence more accessible or inexpensive.

Therefore, with this thinking, even as covid lockdowns and isolations become less common, the lens of nostalgia marketing will still be relevant as – and possible grow even more impactful – as our social calendars become fully booked again. In addition, brands may influence crucial consumer groups like Millennials by bridging the gap between the past and the present by using favourable references from the 1980s and 1990s.

Another sign that nostalgia might continue to be a go-to digital marketing tactic is its stronghold on young customers on social media platforms since social media isn’t going away anytime soon.

When we look at the Snapchat audiences, we see that Gen Z and millennials make up the bulk of individuals who use the Memories function. Also, those who use it are 43 per cent more inclined than the general population to favour thinking about the past over the future. So, without discussing whether this is beneficial, it’s evident that nostalgia brings people comfort and has a lot of power, which is why new annual events like Instagram Playback keep popping up.

Brands may have excellent ROIs if they launch throwback events or invite followers to contribute their favourite childhood experiences with their brand. Many people will like these throwbacks as long as they appear natural.

With all this being said, a leading digital agency will caution businesses to not overinvest in such campaigns. Pretty much any legacy brand, nostalgia will return high profits without a doubt, as the audience will connect with the brands’ continued stability throughout their decades of operation with great core values that are even relevant today.

However, the success is not so clear with smaller businesses, as no matter what campaign a brand launches, it must be genuine, and if your brand doesn’t have the history, a nostalgic campaign can seem fake.

Instead, these start-ups should focus more on reshaping the vintage aesthetics into a new and familiar way. After all, everyone is searching for fresh content, and sometimes that means looking backwards, as generations past have done as well.

“Nostalgia works when it strikes a chord in culture and is rooted in a good idea. But nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake probably won’t lead to a memorable campaign,” said Danny Price, associate creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi.

“People have so much nostalgia coming at them from TV and movie reboots and social media content that tapping into that trend could easily get lost in the mix. But when it feels connected to a product or brand, taps into a cultural trend and is specific enough to stand out from the nostalgia crowd, it can still be a powerful tool.”


Five Nostalgia Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

  • Pay attention to the finer points — the intricacies that will make a lasting impression on your customers. This can be anything from a background to a focal point.
  • Mix it up a little by including nostalgia in your social media postings or making nostalgic posts part of your regular material, such as #tbt.
  • Do some study to discover what makes your target audience feel unique. Examine historical dates or even your personal chronology.
  • Go through your archives and find those old images and film clips – they’re marketing gold!
  • Consider how your own brand has developed over time. It’s a fun project to work on for the company.

Five Things to Consider When Creating a Nostalgia Marketing Campaign

As you can see, nostalgia has a lot of potentials. However, before you start organising your advertising campaign, consider the following five crucial factors to improve your chances of success:

  1. Your target audience’s age: Most nostalgia campaigns target millennials and feature references from the 1980s and 1990s. If your target is from a different generation, though, you’ll need to alter your campaign. You should, as usual, do your homework! For example, if you’re targeting millennials, the ’90s or the frosted-tips-and-boy-band-loving early 2000s can inspire. The funky, disco-loving 1970s can be a good fit if your target demographic is Gen X.
  2. Social traditions and perceptions: Feminism and LGBT rights were not at the forefront of social concerns thirty years ago, as they are today. As a result, when referring to the past, you must consider how it might be interpreted today.
  3. Pay close attention to the finer points of your nostalgic design. When attempting to recreate a specific era, it’s critical to get all the details right, including music, colours, fonts, and photographs. For example, you can’t use the Papyrus typeface on a 60s-inspired ad’s background.
  4. Make an effort to be inventive. Although you may not be able to licence the usage of certain shows, characters, or companies from the past, you can use components from that era in your digital marketing efforts (such as font, colours, and fashion choices) to reproduce the look and feel without going overboard.
  5. Use your company’s past as a source of inspiration. Every business has a unique narrative to tell. Perhaps your business started in a garage or as a pop-up shop. Consider telling your own brand’s narrative as part of your nostalgia marketing plan.


So, in 2022 and Beyond, Will You Employ a Nostalgia Marketing Strategy?

In these uncertain times, customers crave familiarity. With uplifting and emotive content, brands may assist meet this desire. But, no matter how much we want to return to “normal”, there is no way to predict the future of whether this is a one-off two-year booming trend or a forever marketing trend.

Will your company’s marketing approach this year include a nod to the past? No matter the case, if you want to discover if nostalgia marketing will genuinely work for your brand, get in contact with a reputable digital marketing agency. They have the expertise and tools to predict the successful likelihood of a nostalgia campaign for you and your target market.

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Author: Ashley Regan-Scherf