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Retro Design and Nostalgic Marketing: Influence of Nostalgic Trends in Consumer Behavior
The marketing strategies always try to keep up with the times to create the maximum demand and sell as many goods as possible. The primary task of each marketer is, first of all, to follow the trends and determine the characteristics of each generation of consumers. Those companies that are good at this task have already realized that now the most effective strategy is nostalgic marketing focused on Generation Y. Marketing specialists have long recognized that nostalgic feelings have a strong influence on consumer behavior. As is known, nostalgic marketing works most efficiently with a certain group of consumers, which are united by a collective cultural past, age, and financial possibilities. At the moment, Generation Y is the target consumer group of marketing strategies of most of the world’s leading companies.
This is because most of the millennials have already reached the working age, and some already have their own businesses, which means that at this time, they are at the peak of their consumer activity. In order to establish contact with this group of buyers, it is enough to give them an occasion for nostalgic thoughts about the culture of the 80’s and 90’s. It has been proved that every person treats something from his or her past with much confidence, while all the new causes caution. This means that if the product will remind the buyer about the times of his or her youth, the probability of purchase significantly increases. This factor can explain the success of products that were popular in the 90’s and now returned to the market in a modern format (for example Pokemon GO, which in the first days of sales gained a crazy popularity among the millennials due to the franchise and AR). Thus, nostalgic marketing is based on the principle of human psychology to trust more familiar things from the past, which gives companies the opportunity to use this as an effective marketing strategy.
Everyone is prone to nostalgia in one way or another, as it consists of pleasant memories of the atmosphere of the past and the carefree days of youth. People try to feel this atmosphere again, their former carelessness, and youth, and sometimes they are ready to spend huge money on it. Therefore, nostalgic marketing is being increasingly studied by business schools and academies, as it is a new marketing method with great potential. When using this strategy, much attention is given to the specific design of the product, which resembled the design trends of the 1980-1990s. According to most researchers, the use of retro design provides the product with more value in the eyes of a middle-aged buyer (Cui 125). This is due not only to a sense of nostalgia but a subconscious desire to possess objects of age. In the buyer’s subconscious, such goods automatically seem more attractive, because they allegedly stood the test of time, and this works even with the full realization that the image of the antiquity was created artificially, and the goods themselves had been manufactured in the factory last morning. Some buyers are willing to give more money for the old thing than for the new one, and this shows that retro design is a relevant direction for all spheres of human activity. However, as is known, this trend does not apply to all consumers: contrary to expectations, some tend to futuristic or functional products. Nevertheless, most consumers are still influenced by nostalgic marketing.
Quite often, product designs use some aspects of trends inherent in the popular culture of the end of the last century, for example, images from games, music performers, films, comics, and other things popular at that time. Some brands such as Coca-Cola deliberately do not change the design of their glass bottles for decades, while maintaining a sense of nostalgia in adult buyers, who at the same time are the most active buyers. In addition, some companies have recently been renewing the production of goods that have not been produced for decades, deliberately trying to evoke a feeling of nostalgia for consumers. For example, the same Coca-Cola recently announced the return of the drink Surge to production (Ju et al.). It is worth noting that this drink was very popular in the 90’s, but by 2006, sales dropped significantly, and the company decided to remove it from the line. It was dictated by the fact that this drink was initially popular among children and teenagers who still did not have their own earnings at the beginning of the new century, and their parents, representatives of the last generation, were not interested in buying this drink. However, ten years later, those teenagers from the 90s grew up, found jobs, and began to shop for their own money. After removal of the drink from the factory, many people were upset, and in 2015, a whole movement emerged advocating the return of this particular beverage into production, and Coca-Cola agreed, after which Surge reappeared on the shelves in the East of the US.
When drafting a marketing strategy, each company must take into account the age characteristics of its customers. In addition to retro design, advertising can also accommodate nostalgic elements to attract more customers, but it should be borne in mind that people of different ages react to such advertising in a specific way. At the LEMCS conference held in Shenyang in 2015, the results of a large-scale study of the influence of nostalgia on the behavior of consumers of different ages were announced. Summing up the results, it was said that “young people tend to prefer the virtual collective nostalgia appeal, and middle-aged people tend to prefer personal nostalgic appeal” (Fei, Gong and Hua 1416). These young people are more inclined to buy goods that were popular in public culture at a certain time, while consumers 25-30 years old prefer those products that they used in the past themselves. Following this, companies must identify their target buyer and, based on his or her age, choose in favor of an advertising campaign that uses collective or personal nostalgia. If the company deals with products for young people, advertising will be more effective if it has references to popular culture of the last 10-15 years. If the buyer is older, an effective method will be to attract retro designs of similar products of the past decades. It is also necessary to take into account the purchasing power of each individual group of consumers, depending on their age. Another study by the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014 showed that nostalgia also makes consumers more easily part with their money. Many experiments demonstrate that nostalgic memories in people lower the value of money for them and increase the value of the goods that are the source of these memories (Lasaleta, Sedikides and Vohs 713). In addition, observations have proven the hypothesis that, in addition to the weakening effect of nostalgia on the desire for money, it also gives people a sense of social belonging. In other words, when buyers are willing to buy a product that is an object of nostalgia, they are guided not only by personal experiences of memories but also would like to feel an emotional reconnection with the group of people who grew up on the same goods as they did.
The visual content is also becoming increasingly prone to the influence of nostalgic marketing. More and more films in our time depict the past, or they are styled respectively, however with the use of modern technologies. A striking example is the Sin City franchise, stylized for sixties movies, yet with advanced graphics and production. A similar format, combining the old and the new, attracted a considerable number of admirers and followers, and now this style is used in other new films and video clips. In addition, a well-known Instagram is a proof of the propensity of modern consumers to retro design. Each year, there are more and more filters, stylized for photographs of the last century. Despite the fact that this often worsens the quality of the photo, many users want to take photographs similar to those stored in their family photo albums, which they reviewed in childhood. One can also notice that most modern music video clips are also filmed in retro style, which is also designed to induce nostalgic feelings among viewers, which means to inspire confidence and affection. More and more often, one can see black and white videos on the Internet and television, and the actors in films are frequently dressed in costumes of the last century. The company Calvin Klein also began to use this trend, resuming production of goods popular in the 1990s. The company developed 12 models of clothing sold well in 1994 due to Kate Moss’ participation in the brand promotion. Each of these models was sewn from the same fabrics and looked the same as more than twenty years ago, and the only thing that distinguished them was the price: the new collection started at $ 250-350 per item. In this case, despite the fact that it was an “old” model, most of the collection was completely sold out in a few weeks after the start of sales, which again speaks of the influence of nostalgia on the intention of purchase.
Surely many people have seen or heard about the TV series Strange Things, the first season of which was launched in July 2016. This is a sci-fi series about children and their adventures associated with the other world, which, incidentally, is not something new or special. Noteworthy is the decision of the directors to post a set of the series in the Indiana of the 1980s. A whole group of specialists was devoted to the smallest details, which ensured that every detail on the screen harmoniously reflected that time to create the naturalness of the atmosphere of that period. Despite the selected historical era, for the shooting, advanced technologies and modern camera techniques were used, and the plot was diluted with a mass of fantastic twists and skillfully used computer graphics. The spirit of that time was conveyed in small things: hairstyles, style of clothes, and even the manner of speech were chosen correctly. The main characters spend a lot of time riding around the city on bicycles, which was very popular among actual children of that time, playing games that were also popular in reality (“Stranger Things Is Proof That Nostalgia Marketing Works”). Thus, the authors of the series used a complex display of nostalgic messages, which cover different age categories and interest groups. However, most viewers, whose childhood was held in the same years, simply could not remain indifferent to this series. Careful treatment of the nostalgic feelings of their audience was the reason for the success of the series originally among the millennials, who later popularized it among other age groups.
As practice shows, the use of nostalgic techniques in itself is not enough for the success of the marketing company. To ensure maximum sales, it is necessary to combine old and new, nostalgia and advanced technologies. The most striking example of this is the recent hit in the mobile games world: Pokemon GO. This app became the most installed in 2016, while the company developer almost did not use advertising. The entire advertising campaign was based on just one video clip demonstrating the potential of the game. However, everyone knew about Pokemon Go before it was released, as the Pokemon is a world hit of the 80s of the last century. At that time, people used plastic plates with the image of Pokémon and the balls in which they were stored for the game. The 2016 application applied the latest developments in the field of mobile technologies, namely augmented reality (AR). This decision raised the game to a whole new level, forcing players to engage in physical activity, because, in order to collect the Pokémon, it was necessary to look for them in real terrain, because of which many enthusiasts walked dozens of kilometers a day (Murray). The factor of innovation combined with the retro franchise gave its fruits, and the game brought a crazy income to its creators. If an augmented reality were used exclusively, the game would also be popular, but much less. The same would be in the case of another ordinary mobile arcade about Pokemon, as there are hundreds of them. Thus, only combining the old and the new, a company can achieve the most effective marketing strategy.
In general, nostalgic marketing is an actual trend of modern marketing, which is actively studied and used by large companies. The principle of this marketing tool is to use retroelements in new products to evoke nostalgic feelings among consumers, which increase the likelihood of purchase. It was found that the target group of consumers for this method are millennials, that is, people born between 1980 and 2000. The use of elements of mass culture in new products causes consumers confidence and nostalgia, which are the key to selling the goods. Companies with a long history such as Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein use nostalgic marketing to resume production and sales of their own products, which enjoyed great popularity 20-30 years ago, which provides high demand among the millennials, which nowadays are the main consumer group. Some recent studies have examined the nature of nostalgia and its impact on consumer behavior and have shown that collective nostalgia is inherent to young buyers, while older consumers tend to have personal nostalgia. In addition, it was proved that nostalgia directly lowers the value of money and raises the value of things that cause nostalgic associations, which confirms the effectiveness of this marketing method.
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