retro consumer nostalgia

Consumer Nostalgia Trend 2022

Longing for the “good old days”

Consumer nostalgia is becoming a key trend as people lean towards fashions, objects and cultures from the past. Of course, the fast-paced nature of contemporary society and consumer culture means that the ‘past’ can mean anything from a few months ago, to several decades and beyond. For some, it is a case of integrating their own personal experiences to tap into familiar memories; whilst for others, it is more out of an appreciation of the aesthetics of things that they were too young to experience originally.

Most of the time, seeking a sense of nostalgia is motivated by a desire for comfort and stability in times of uncertainty and change, as familiarity can help consumers to feel grounded (and times have not been less certain and open to change as they have been for one reason or another over the past few years – Brexit, Covid and Ukraine are all impacting us hugely in many different ways – financially and emotionally to name but two). Heritage eras haves also acquired a trendier appeal as items are fetishised for their antiquity, as well as representing an age of quality craftsmanship, durability, and inferring a greater sense of individuality. One example of this is the popularity of vintage and retro furnishings and clothes.

Nostalgic products have multi-generational appeal and offer confidence to consumers as they have already been proven to work, backed by trustworthy characteristics such as heritage. The reliability of familiar companies and products can be influential in determining consumer choice. Tapping into nostalgia offers ways to introduce new, modern concepts to consumers who are more resistant to change, as well as opportunities to bring back well-loved classics. 

Consumer Nostalgia Trend

How can companies draw on consumer nostalgia?

The nostalgia trend offers companies a wide range of opportunities to trigger consumer attachment to the past by having campaigns that relaunch, revive, reissue or reimagine old products, re-pitching them to new consumers often with new spins – such as modern technologies. Volkswagen have recently reintroduced their iconic bus, now in the form of an electric vehicle. The new vehicle, named the ‘ID. Buzz’, shares many similarities with the classic Bus, from its external shape to its internal features. However, it also has distinctive differences that bring it right up to speed in the 21st century, such as its powerful electric engine and the option for interior fabrics made from recycled plastic (sustainability and ethics are two other core themes for all companies to consider). This is an example of how brands can revive classic products associated with strong nostalgic feelings, modernising them to make them more suitable for today’s world. It goes without saying that the ID.Buzz will be filled from top to toe and side to side with all the latest hi tech solutions.

VW Bus consumer trend nostalgia

Photo: Fortune

Well-established companies are probably in the best position to leverage their heritage by revisiting past logos, concepts and product editions to refresh current campaigns with a comfortingly familiar feel. For example, Burger King rebranded in 2021 for the first time in two decades, returning to a style that is distinctly reminiscent of their logo used in the 1970s-1990s. The use of bold colours, shapes and fonts produces a retro look and feel that pays homage to the fast-food chain’s long heritage, whilst updating it to make it look new, bold and fun.

Burger king retro logo nostalgia

Photo: Dezeen

Consumers may lean into nostalgia heavily but, at the same time, they also expect fun and spontaneity – with Mintel research in 2022 finding that consumers globally are seeking exciting and enjoyable new experiences in their purchasing behaviours, alongside an appreciation for things that remind them of their past. Companies and marketers can respond to these trends by merging inspiration and authenticity to offer their customers the things they know and love in unexpected new ways. It is important for successful marketing campaigns to always retain a sense of originality and a forward-thinking approach, rather than just relying on a tip of the hat to the past. As always, successful marketing has to be disruptive first and foremost, but it also has to be interesting at a deeper level too.

What does this mean for you?

When planning your next marketing campaign, perhaps it may be worth thinking about nostalgic elements within your company to draw on the same feelings within your audience to establish greater familiarity and confidence. And them combining them with the latest tech, in a sustainable and ethical way – not forgetting to be fun, bold and different too. Easy!

Our strategic marketing planning process (SMPP) can help you to identify the values that will elicit feelings of nostalgia within your customer base, as well as establish robust foundations that stand the test of time. It’s possible that important core principles which consumers value within heritage brands, such as reliability and quality, should be at the heart of your brand proposition too. If appropriate for your company, adopting a slightly more retro feel to your marketing collateral (tested through tactical campaigns) may be beneficial to visually draw on nostalgic themes, to evoke feelings of familiarity with vintage aesthetics. Through the use of our framework, Abacus Marketing can help you to engage with the nostalgia consumer trend in real-time, as well as setting yourself up for the future, by communicating your credentials as an established heritage brand with a strong and proud history.

Abacus uses Mintel research for detailed, robust insights into how consumers behave across the globe (such as this one about nostalgia). We apply these insights to the individual needs of our clients to deliver tailored outcomes that are backed up by reliable , extensive research. With Abacus, you can be certain that every stage of your marketing plan is grounded in unshakeable data collected by industry-leading experts. Please contact stephen@abacusmarketing.co.uk if you would like to find out more.