Confessions of a Marketing Mom: The Value of Nostalgia

March  28,  2018 / By Cynthia Ramsaran

When I became a parent, I had no idea it would impact me as a marketer. All at once, as a new mom, I was hit with many different products that claimed to help with every one of my baby’s needs. As a consumer, I’d forego the ones that didn’t work for us, and stayed loyal to the brands that held their end of the bargain.


There’s a reason why almost every big consumer brand has moms on their list of target demographics. Traditionally, our roles have included doing almost everything and taking care of everyone in the household. Guaranteed we make most of the purchasing decisions in our household, and that makes an impression on our kids.


Now, my five-year-old is brand loyal. Not only does he know the difference between brands, but he also identifies and prefers one company over another based on how they make him feel. It’s not because of the toys packaged with QSR meal purchases or colors, characters, and brand messaging. Certain brands simply remind him of our experiences together.


For example, he associates his love of Pizza Hut with our shopping adventures in Target – barely making it out of the store without a meltdown. I’d breeze through the aisles – throwing the brands we love into the cart – rush to pay, and quickly stop for that pepperoni personal pan pizza on our way out. Much to his excitement.


So of course, his go-to choice for pizza delivery is always Pizza Hut. The choices he makes at his age are always decided upon with fond memories or associations. If this isn’t emotional engagement at its finest, I don’t know what is.


Observing this behavior as his mother reminded me of the value of nostalgia marketing. The experiences we have when we are young and impressionable is what brand marketers try to replicate when building an authentic, emotional connection with their audience. Every experience should be presented in a way that connects to the feelings and emotions we’ve had in our childhoods.


This sentiment about nostalgia couldn’t have been better positioned than Don Draper’s “Carousel” pitch in Mad Men. “It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone,” he says in the video below.





Nostalgia marketing takes the power of the past (wrapped with all those warm feelings) and creates new memories for the consumer, ultimately tying them emotionally to the brand. Some examples of this are:




Coca-Cola’s “Share it Forward” campaign flooded us with memories of our childhoods by celebrating the 100th anniversary of its iconic glass bottle. The goal was to ultimately motivate Millennials to shop for Coke products at Walmart, and the results prove that nostalgic messaging helped encouraged shoppers to purchase the bottles.


Walmart’s 20-ounce Coca-Cola sales growth were double the growth experienced by all other large retailers combined during the four-week program with sales peaks hitting as high as 40%.




Adidas helped consumers take a strip down memory lane with the relaunch of its celebrated Stan Smith shoe. The campaign drew on feelings of nostalgia and also leveraged the power of social media by asking consumers to be a part of the story. The ‘Stan Yourself’ initiative asked users to Tweet an image of themselves for a chance to win a pair of the personalized shoes.


Target/Star Wars partnership:


Good old Target. The super retailer recently used the “Force” to connect with consumers. Target unveiled a tribute to Star Wars featuring an interactive website – that offers users a spot in the galaxy – as well as an in-store shop with exclusive merchandise.


To extend this partnership online, Target also collected Star Wars memories from fans on its microsite ( Users can submit photos and videos to the site from Facebook and Instagram in exchange for a unique set of galactic coordinates indicating where their memories will be housed.


This partnership is a great example of using nostalgia marketing to target multiple generations. Parents shopping with their families at Target stores, much like the example I shared with my son and I breezing through the store, can share their love and memories of watching Star Wars with their kids.


Nostalgia is such a powerful marketing tool. If you take people, and kids alike to a place they, “ache to go again,” their experience with your brand creates good feelings by association. It’s a win-win all around. Maybe not for the tired mommy, but hey, a happy kid is a victory in my eyes. And a happy consumer is always a win for your brand.



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