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Three Ways to Market Nostalgia in Social Communities

October 20, 2010  

You've no doubt noticed it: Products from the past are making a comeback. Coke and Pepsi have recently introduced throwback versions of their soft drinks. Mrs. Butterworth, Strawberry Shortcake, Atari (the list goes on) have all returned. And advertisers like Bumble Bee Tuna are reviving their old jingles.

Marketers of products such as these are pushing nostalgia in the hope that "in times of anxiety (such as economic recessions), reviving feelings about the past will soothe consumers' nerves," say the authors of a new research report.

How might a retro product soothe a frazzled buyer? The researchers set out to find the answer. Particularly, they focused on a human emotion relevant to the age of social media: the need to belong.


In a series of five experiments, they explored whether subjects feeling socially "excluded" demonstrated a preference for nostalgic products. They divided shoppers up to experience an "exclusion condition" (where they were ignored during a group activity), an "inclusion condition" and a "neutral condition." Following the group activity, participants were offered choices of contemporary or retro products.

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  • by Fred Thu Oct 21, 2010 via web

    There's comfort in nostalgia, true, especially in troubled times. I wonder if there's another component driving the attraction to nostalgia, namely that culture in general is more fragmented, so we desperately want commonalities.
    Once upon a time,there were fewer channels and no digital distribution. News was more newsy and less tailored to the audience. I think we need some level reassuring ubiquity.

  • by Heidi Tue Oct 26, 2010 via web

    What are some examples of companies that have done this?

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