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3 Best Practices to Harness the Power of Millennial Nostalgia

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For millennial consumers, nostalgia strikes a familiar chord — and that chord increases their willingness to spend, a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed by innovative businesses.

Nostalgia marketing is an increasingly popular way for brands, like Coca Cola and Old Navy, to bring back sentiments of the past while connecting millennials to old and new products.

These three best practices demonstrate how to win millennials over with a nostalgic marketing campaign.

1. Cater to your audience’s perspective.

For nostalgia marketing to work well, marketers must keep a finger on the pulse of pop culture trends. Your team must explore the consumer’s perspective, from music to fashion.

“When you create a marketing campaign to invoke nostalgia, it’s valuable to consider what are the emotions and feelings attached with the object, both when the customer first got the item, and how the customer feels about it today,” says Jason Quey, founder of The Storyteller Marketer.

For example, a Burger King ad reimagined a scene from the cult film “Napoleon Dynamite,” showing the main character’s everlasting love for tater tots. The television commercial takes millennials back to a familiar moment in their movie history. Nostalgia works best when the audience remembers something they care about. “Napoleon Dynamite” debuted in 2004, making it old enough to trigger nostalgia but recent enough for millennials to remember it fondly.

2. Focus on the feeling, not the time period.

While nostalgia may draw on childhood memories, the inspiration is not as distant as marketers may think. Because social media makes yesterday’s news seem old, millennials may consider something from last week as nostalgia.

#ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday do not require companies to dig deep into their past. Young brands lacking history can tap into nostalgic marketing by focusing on product evolution, early brand adopters, and nostalgic advertising themes.

Expedia took it to the next level by asking its audience to submit their old vacation photos, as AdWeek notes, and the brand rewarded winners with travel vouches for the chance to recreate the memories. This contest resonated with millennials because it encouraged them to dig up old pictures with their parents—and possibly flying home.

So whether your business focuses on an event from last month or 20 years ago, there’s an opportunity to engage with millennials and build a brand relationship.

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3. Monitor social media to forecast demand for old products.

One of the primary goals of nostalgic marketing is to boost sales. You want consumers to buy part of their past when purchasing your products.

Frankfurt Candy Company brought back the Wonder Ball, a milk chocolate treat filled with candy, according to the Philly Voice. Before relaunching, the brand had 400,000 social media fans encouraging the company to produce the trendy candy again.

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To achieve success with nostalgia campaigns, marketers must actively listen to their millennial audience. Social media buzz is one indication that millennials are interested in buying discontinued products again.

That insight will give you the foundation to build a personalized product positioned for nostalgic marketing. It’s all about capturing the consumers’ positive thoughts to influence them to purchase.

Blast From the Past

Nostalgia marketing leverages the power of the past to create an emotional connection with millennial customers today.

Those memories offer your business the opportunity to increase brand awareness and generate more sales. How will you use nostalgia marketing in your next campaign?

To learn more about how to drive brand loyalty among this consumer group, download this survey infographic “Cracking the Code on Student Shoppers.”

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