Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The New Nostalgia Marketing

I can't resist saying that nostalgia marketing is nothing new. For years, it's been a fun and fairly effective strategy for reminding baby boomers of the "simpler times" of their childhood and young adult days.

Now Pepsi and other marketers are bringing nostalgia back for newer generations. MediaPost reports that Pepsi has, in fact, created an entire "throwback" team to manage nostalgia marketing targeting the Millennials, who were born digital and--like their baby-boom parents--are attracted to reminders of their youth. Luden's cough drops--a staple of 1950s childhood--are making a comeback with throwback packaging and graphics that link to the past but speak of authenticity today. Heinz is going retro, too.

Wisely, many of these retro marketing touches are limited-edition. Change is good--especially for Millennials, who often crave variety and novelty.

On the plus side of nostalgia marketing:
  • Packaging stands out in a crowded marketplace. No one can mistake the "throwback" Mountain Dew with new-fangled fruit-flavored fizzes, etc.
  • Heritage gives a brand the authenticity that come-lately brands can't match.
  • Being old enough to go "nostalgia" gives brands a wider range of possible marketing approaches based on previously successful campaigns.
Possible pitfalls of nostalgia marketing:
  • Overdoing the retro feeling until consumers think the brand has "jumped the shark."
  • Not backing the brand promise up with real benefits that satisfy contemporary buyers' needs.
  • Too many changes can confuse consumers and drive them back into the arms of brands that look familiar.

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