29 Mar Nostalgia Marketing: Turning That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling into Cold, Hard Cash
As 2017 rolls on it may feel like we’re moving further and further towards a world controlled entirely by our handheld devices, chatbots and Wi-Fi enabled light bulbs. While we aren’t in the realms of Skynet quite yet, the speed in which tech is changing is ever increasing. But is our ability to keep up waning?
The use of nostalgia within popular culture is ever present. Whether it’s intentional or not, this recurring trope influences anything from music to film. Nostalgia is incredibly effective, as it works on a number of consumer demographics. For the slightly more, ahem, ‘mature’ audience, the nostalgic angle allows them to don a pair of their finest rose-tinted spectacles and recall the good old days when life was better and the music wasn’t just noise. For the younger generation, you can almost replace the word nostalgic for ‘retro,’ which is also desirable, as it flirts dangerously with the current hipster trend.
For brands, nostalgia is an opportunity to remind consumers that they have been around for ages. As we know heritage can be a powerful sales tool — just check out the eye-watering price of anything in the Louis Vuitton shop. Employing nostalgic marketing can be a way for brands to remind consumers that they have grown up with the brand and shared experiences together (Hovis are very good at doing this with their adverts). This can remind consumers of the relationship they have with the brand and encourage loyalty, brand advocacy and ultimately a lifetime of purchases.
Some might see the remaking of blockbusters like Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Ghostbusters and the upcoming Lion King, as lazy storytelling. While this is quite possibly true, it’s also a pervasive and incredibly successful business model employed by Disney (which they have effectively used for the past 90-odd years). Give us what we know, with enough of a twist so that we still get the warm, fuzzy feeling inside that we expect from Disney, but still feels new (ish).
So how do tech companies utilise this same tool? To find an example of this we need to look no further than at the top of this very Word document I’m currently writing; the ‘Save’ icon. The icon that has become synonymous with saving is a floppy disk, something which a large majority of the ‘iGeneration’ will have never even seen in real life, let alone used. A similar example we can look to is on our iPhones; our ‘Notes’ app looks like a notepad. Now, this is also evidence of easing analogue into a digital age, but its aim is still to soothe, to comfort, to stroke our heads and tell us new tech isn’t all that scary… so unfurl yourself from the foetal position and go and buy the new iPhone.
One of the biggest trends so far this year has been the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). How do the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google make these faceless, disembodied assistants more accessible? Some might not be so keen to ask Alexa about the weather, order a Dominos or ask ‘Colin’ to play you a song (see Dad vs Amazon Echo). It seems the personification of these little guys and girls will only go so far; we don’t want faces, or bodies for them, too weird and Terminator-like. It’s arguably personal enough that we name them: Siri, Alexa and Cortana. Siri has staked its claim as the first and probably the most widely used integrated AI system, with Amazon Echo and Google Home clipping at its heels. While their popularity increases, there are still those who don’t see the value in using them. Some may suggest that chatting with a robot is a step too far, unlike anything we’ve experienced before. AI will continue to get more responsive, sophisticated and dynamic. Communication will become even more intuitive. So, should we be trying harder to infuse a little more familiarity into the process? Would it help to soothe the state of alienation and get more users to at least give AI a go? Or is nostalgia something we should leave in the past? Either that or we all go back to hugging our knees and wait for Mr Schwarzenegger to come to save us.
If you’d like some help with your marketing strategy (nostalgia optional), we’d love to hear from you. Click here to see where we are. We’ll get the kettle on…
Luke Owen is an Account Executive at h2o, he keeps h2o clients as happy as humanly possible with his clear communication and his excellent organisation skills. Away from the office he enjoys watching (and occasionally playing) football. Luke is also a big fan of technology and is currently converting his flat into the smartest smart-home in Oxford.
To get in touch, tweet us @h2osays, or email email@example.com.