The rise of Nostalgia

Christiaan Van Rooyen | Designer Marketing

nostalgia, an old film projector

The rise of nostalgia as a marketing tool

Nostalgia makes us part with money more easily, according to academics studying patterns of consumer behaviour, and Hollywood has not let this go unnoticed.

In recent years nostalgia has had a great impact on the entertainment industry – most notably Star Wars, which made a tremendous comeback since Disney has purchased the rights. One can practically buy anything that is branded with the Star Wars logo.

Recent and upcoming nostalgic TV series releases include Twin Peaks, Star Trek: Discovery, X-Files, The Dark Crystal and Lost in Space.

Netflix’s Stranger Things, released mid 2016, is a great example of how nostalgia can create hype and a new iconic pop-culture series. This show made numerous references to pop-culture of the 80s, including films like E.T. (1982), Ghostbusters (1984) and The Goonies (1985) – films some of us grew up with and still view with affection.

“At our hearts, we are creatures of habit, and we tend to make many decisions that way,” says Kevin Carr, host of the syndicated radio program Fat Guys at the Movies.

And the same goes for studios. “They don’t want to spend $20-200 million to make a movie that has no proven track record. So, Hollywood always wants to relate a new movie to something in the past,” he says.

“Nostalgia can serve as reminders that life wasn’t always so difficult [and] restore a sense of being grounded and able to survive during difficult times,” says Krystine Batcho, PhD, professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in New York.

Nostalgia is of course not limited to the entertainment industry. A good example is the 2016-2017 political slogan for Donald Trump “Make America Great Again”. At its core it relies on nostalgia to motivate the people and get them thinking of the ‘good ol’ days’ when life seemed simpler.

The lesson here is that, nostalgia feeds off our emotions of a happier and simpler time, making it a very powerful marketing tool.