As Millennials Get Nostalgic, So Do Brands

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

Ranging from roughly 18 to 30 years old, Millennials are generally optimistic about their futures, but they’re also approaching the age where they start to become nostalgic. Digital technology has been an integral factor for the majority of their lives, and it continues to advance at rapid rates. Computers have transformed from huge boxes to devices we can fit in our pockets, the iPhone has evolved from the 2G to the 5S in a span of six years, and Nintendo 64 is already classified as vintage. In addition to the speedy tempo of technological upswing, Millennials have faced many challenges posed by today’s economy. These are just a couple of reasons why Millennials are beginning to long for “the good old days” of their childhood.

Which means now is the perfect time for brands to chime in and remind Millennials of the good times. This can be achieved through a term dubbed, nostalgia marketing, or marketing that is aimed at evoking a feeling of nostalgia in a target market. In times of instability or uncertainty, we tend to look back at times that were happier and more simple. For Millennials, these happy and simple times are more than likely to be spawned by anything related to the decade of their youth: the 90s.

Nostalgia marketing can pose a number of perks. It can cause people to reminisce on simpler times, it can create an opportunity for generational inside jokes, and it can make people feel like they are kids all over again. Many brands have already caught on to the trend. By positioning their products or services in a nostalgic context, companies link themselves with happier times in the minds of Millennial consumers. Below are three examples of brands that have implemented this strategy.

1. Urban Outfitters and Lisa Frank


Urban Outfitters embraced nostalgic marketing by bringing back iconic Lisa Frank products that were once popular with young girls in the 90s. in 2012, Urban Outfitters began selling limited edition Lisa Frank stickers, folders, and stationary. It even launched a Lisa Frank Contest that asked social media followers to use the hashtag, #UOxLisaFrank and create their own Lisa Frank-inspired doodle.

2. Nickelodeon


Nickelodeon is notorious for shows geared toward children and teenagers. The network  created a programming block during TeenNick called, “The 90s are All That.” Each night, viewers of the Millennial age range could tune in to shows that were once the emblem of their childhood. The program earned the network a 50 percent ratings spike among viewers 18-35 years old.

3. Pepsi


Pepsi launched a new line of soft drinks called Pepsi Throwback, named because the drink is flavored with beet sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup, as it used to be. Pepsi Throwback teamed up with Atari to create a contest in which participants could play Atari Arcade games on Pepsi Throwback’s Facebook page for a chance to win an Atari Flashback console.

Whether it’s creating childhood memories or generational inside jokes, there are many ways brands can pair their products and services with the good old days of the Millennial generation.  By finding the best qualities of the original product and then tweaking them to fit today’s mold, brands can not only bring back good times, but can also enhance Millennials’ brand association.

Lauren Katz contributed to this post. 

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About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.