Whenever I hear the word “nostalgia,” I think of longevity. As we grow and develop, we go out to see movies, buy toys and video games from businesses like Marvel, DC, Disney, etc. We’re left with generally the same thought, “Wow, this is awesome.” Movies took us on an journey that gripped our hearts and blew our minds into a world out of the ordinary.
Garry L. Landreth once said, “Toys are children’s words and play is their language.” As we get older we look back and wonder how something so simple attracted us and fulfilled us such that our families spent “x” amount of dollars.
Nostalgia gives us a fondness for how it used to be and an awareness of how it influenced us. Nostalgia reinvigorates our ideas, and can also ease the jaded mindset when life gets rough. When looking back at stories we grew up learning about, it can show us a sanitized or new reality. Nostalgia can comfort us or shed new light on our worldviews that we didn’t see the first time around.
Pop culture brands marketing to lifelong consumer attachment has become a staple of life, blurring the lines between the brand and the consumer. The brand is a part of who you are and shapes your spending habits. It creates a bond between you and the brand because you’re invested in it personally. However, regardless of the name brand, staying attuned with changing demographics to stay valuable is the key most brands need to stay afloat.
One example is social media, when it’s designed to create an experience that is unique to each of us. Every website and every app uses algorithms to keep us glued to our phones and engage with a brand. We’re led to believe it’s meant to serve us, where our voice and opinion matter in the online world that we make for ourselves.
One of the biggest worries brands will always have is longevity, because a consumer’s buying habits change as they age and money is used for other necessities because the jobs of adults suck. You live to work. So, despite the power of nostalgia, a brand needs to engage new customers and cater to who they are now and not expect that what worked from the past will would work for the future and beyond.
With that said, it’s daunting for consumers who spent a good majority of their life investing into these brands that shaped who they are and now have to figure out how to be open to certain changes without going with the cliché of “Back in my day” that no one wants to hear.
Overall, cultural nostalgia isn’t something new, but thanks to the power of the internet it gives our relationship with it something new. The internet has provided unhindered access: the scarcity of the past is replaced with sheer abundance.
The rise of innovation and globalization and widespread public internet use set off a whole new obsession with what came before. We live a paradox, going into the future pulls us back into the past.