Employing Nostalgia in Marketing

Courtesy of doombride

We have all been victims at one point or other. Apparently, the older one gets, the more one suffers from it.

This syndrome is manifested in a periodic penchant for the past, when life was more carefree and unfettered by the stresses and strains of modernity and technology. Often cast in luxuriant and honeyed sepia tones, days were spent in the pursuit of simple rustic pleasures while nights were soothed by romantic ballads wafting through a crackling old transistor radio. Calling them the "good old days", those yesteryears were always charmed and blissful, enveloping us in a kaleidoscope of warm and fuzzy feelings and emotions, wrought by the thought of our younger days when life was lived with a fuller embrace of one's senses.

That illness is none other than nostalgia - an affliction of the mind which was once thought to be a physical ailment back in the 17th century.

Numerous songs, books, and movies have been produced waxing lyrical about the rock-and-rolling 50s, swinging 60s, and "flower-powered" 70s. Countless games (online and offline) have been created about legendary wars and battles, capturing the heroism, triumph and spirit of famous skirmishes large and small. Restaurants have also hopped onto this bandwagon, creating "authentic" dishes that your grandmother used to cook when ingredients were fresh and seasonings were painstakingly prepared by hand.

Even pubs and clubs have capitalised on this obsession for the obsolete - notice how popular disco
Zouk's Mambo Jambo nights have been after being in existence for more than a decade. Or the number of "old-style" bars which offer the chance to experience a different time and space in a modern cosmopolitan city.

How can marketers take advantage of this fondness for the forgotten? Are there ways for us to strike a chord with those with a penchant for recollection, reminiscence and remembrance? After all, the
silver market is one with tremendous potential, if one knows how to successful tap on it.

First, one should try to understand the lingua franca of that age and that generation. If you are writing copy in an advertisement, brochure or website, use language that was commonly used during those days. The best way to do this is to consult somebody who lived during those times, and it isn't that difficult - just look within your extended family! If you do use colloquial language, be sure that the right slang are used.

Next, search for the most important icons of those bygone days in all aspects of your marketing, be they product designs, advertising and publicity materials, websites, or on-site decor. Were there celebrities back then who were the talk of the town? Was there a particularly happening party in town that everybody remembered fondly? How about an old restaurant or food centre which served delicious yet affordable food? Or a building which housed many sweet and loving memories? Icons are useful signposts that help one remember significant moments in one's life and should be adopted as useful signposts.

One should also strive to be as aesthetically authentic as possible when recreating the past. If you can afford it (depending on the propensity of your market to pay), try not to stint on the right materials to make history happen. If you are unsure how a particular "heritage-themed" backdrop, poster, banner, music, scent or even taste of that era is like like, consult the experts of that era or do some research at the
National Archives or National Library. Enlist the help of authoritative visual design, architectural, music and textual style guides relevant to the period in mind, and confirm them with individuals hailing from your proposed market segment.

Look for ways to bring new life to old yarns, tales and fables. Dig through dusty archival records or read biographies of specific periods for inspiration. Conduct focus group sessions or one-on-ones with your targeted customer segments, and see if your marketing strategies can weave in a compelling storyline that will grip their attention. Remember to choose positive and happy stories to enrich your communication, not negative ones like disasters or tragedies!

Finally, and most importantly, seek to create emotional resonance with your target market. What are the two or three most important memories that one has about bygone days which are so vivid and stirring that they can make one cry? How can you orchestrate your
four Ps (product, price, place, promotion) of marketing to be so spot-on that they can touch the hearts of your anticipated customers? To achieve that heart-felt connection, do invest time and energy in interacting with members of your target market to understand and feel what their world was like.

The business of nostalgia is one that is set to grow as people become increasingly disillusioned with the present and uncertain about the future. Greying populations will increase in proportion and prominence as birth rates decline in most countries around the world. However, it is a market that can only be reached by truly understanding what mattered to those whose best years were spent living in prior decades.

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