Nostalgia as a marketing emotion

Nostalgia . . . just saying the word is a feel-good moment, isn’t it? A longing for the past, a feeling of homesickness, a wistful yearning for a return to . . . something.


Whatever definition you choose, the emotions evoked are the same . . . and powerful by any measure. I guess that’s why Seth Godin’s blog article caught my attention (see link below). Seth redefines nostalgia as a “basic human emotion” – and I couldn’t agree more. And he’s right on target when he says that marketers overlook nostalgia as an opportunity to capitalize on an emotion.


Think about it. When you see that golden retriever puppy in a magazine print ad, it’s not just the irresistibly cute cuddliness that makes you smile and say “aaaaaww” . . . it’s the memory of your first pet as a child and that experience with unconditional love. Or when you see a commercial that showcases a group of children doing somethttp://www.blowinginthewind.com/shop/dbimages/1351-GoldenRetrieverPuppy30pcSmall.jpghing as old-fashioned as climbing a tree – and it evokes the carefree emotion of lazy summer afternoons doing the same (or the memory of your own teenagers in a younger, perhaps more likeable phase).

I think those of us in the apartment marketing business can take a cue from Godin’s advice to utilize nostalgia more in our marketing. And this doesn’t mean just marketing to a crowd that waxes mushy over the rock ‘n roll of the 50’s or the flower-power 60’s and 70’s – although who doesn’t enjoy a resident party where you can dress up in hip-huggers, white go-go boots and giant, multi-colored afro wigs? Or an ad campaign that pops with retro colors and images?

Think about what was popular and meaningful for those 20- and 30-somethings who comprise our major renting demographic. Movies like the Matrix, Dumb & Dumber and Ghost; music from Vanilla Ice, New Kids on the Block, MC Hammer, Spice Girls, Nirvana and R.E.M; Saturday night’s Wayne’s World; Melrose Place and the Macarena; the economy was good, we were largely at peace and we had a charming President whose biggest challenge was how to conduct his private life appropriately – whatever! Ah, the possibilities are endless.

To read Seth Godin’s blog article, click here.