How Brands Play On Nostalgia

stacypostMy mother doesn’t get rid of anything and her mantra is that “it might come back into style someday.” I’ve never quite been able to wrap my hands around that concept, given that it results in multiple closets of outdated clothes. Then a week ago, I sat with my four-year-old daughter as she opened her birthday presents and couldn’t believe how many were duplicates of what I had received decades ago myself. Among her gifts were several Barbie dolls, a Lite-Brite, Cabbage Patch doll, dominoes and so much more.

The nostalgia that I felt was overwhelming, and I suddenly understood what my mother was trying to convey for so long, that old things don’t go away, they only briefly go out of style, if only for a few decades, years, hours, and sometimes minutes.

These brands – and others like them – get that. They understand that mom and dad were once four years old and that they have great memories of their products and they want their kids to have those same great memories. And so they pull at those heartstrings and hope that the nostalgia pulls consumers to pick up their product and buy them for their kids, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. I think it’s brilliant.

Of course, this strategy isn’t exclusive to toy brands. Look in any retail apparel store these days and you’ll see throw back fashions from the 1980s with neon colors, off the shoulder tops and ultra-short skirts. And you can’t overlook what game companies are doing to bring back memories for the older set. Check out any tween iPhone or Android device and you’ll find the classic arcade games like Pac Man, Frogger, and Asteroids all reinvented for a new generation of gamers. All of these dip into that feeling of nostalgia for today’s parents looking to recapture their youth and buy for their kids at the same time.

My mom gets the impact of what that nostalgia means, that’s clear when you look into her closet. Now I get it too, and I’m guessing one day my daughter will get it. Like I said, it’s brilliant.

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