By: Lee Jones

“Research tells us that nostalgia counteracts boredom, loneliness, and anxiety. It also makes people more tolerant of outsiders, and more generous to strangers. In fact, nostalgia can literally make people feel warmer on a cold day. Some research even suggests that nostalgia can be triggered as a way of coping with difficult life transitions and stressful moments.” (

At its simplest, nostalgia marketing is a way of describing your products and/or services in a way that evokes feelings of nostalgia. And, since “nostalgia” by its very definition signifies happiness, when you present what you offer in this way, you can help people to remember, and even re-experience, those positive feelings.

So, think about it. You can market your products and services in an authentic way while making other people happy. It can help them to feel as though they’re once again seeing a long-lost friend.

That’s the power of nostalgia marketing.

Brands Using Nostalgia Marketing Successfully

A brand that brilliantly uses the power of nostalgia to remind you of its products—and to cause you to long for them—is Coca-Cola. Because this soft drink company has been around for so long, virtually everyone in the United States (and beyond) has memories of enjoying a cool, refreshing Coke on a hot day—or has another thirst-quenching memory related to this brand.

Because of this, Coca-Cola can use vintage advertising at strategic moments or release a glass bottle in a shape from the past, triggering happy memories and enticing people to buy a Coke.

Here’s another example of nostalgia playing a role in advertising for a drink: Sunny Delight. During the 1990s, there was an advertising campaign that consisted of energetic kids going out rollerblading. Because their mom recognizes how they’ll all want a delicious drink when they finish rollerblading for the day, she fills up their refrigerator with SunnyD orange juice. When the kids come home, they see the SunnyD and give one another a high five, with the delighted mom looking on.

To help people reminisce, SunnyD used those same kids—now in their 30s—to recreate their commercials in 2015. As a touch of humor, instead of Mom being joyful that they’re drinking their SunnyD, she looks kind of annoyed that they’re still emptying out her refrigerator.

As an example from another industry, in today’s world of ultra-thin smartphones, Nokia re-introduced the blockier 3310 of years past (although the brought-back model is still only about half as thick as the original, likely a nod to what we’ve become accustomed to). Buttons are round and the screen is small, although the latter is larger than what it originally was.

The new version of the phone does have a camera and you can use it to go online, but in a low-techy way. There is no GPS available. There are no messaging apps you can use. What you can do is play the game, Snake, just like you could way back when. This phone appeals to people who have great memories about when they had it the first time, as well as to people who don’t necessarily want all the bells and whistles that drain battery power and complicate what used to just be a way to give someone else a call.

Here’s one more example. Nintendo brings back many fun memories for people in certain generations, and so the company released a mini version of its classic game system, including 30 games to play. That’s almost certainly why they continue to find ways to include Super Mario in their offerings. As a fun side note, on Halloween, people have confused me with Mario when, in fact, this is the outfit I wear every day as an homage to what farmers wore in the classic movie, Grapes of Wrath.

These are just four of numerous examples of marketing that can help to make customers and potential customers feel nostalgically happy about the ads they’re viewing.

Different Generations

As the Nintendo example shows, different marketing themes work for different generations. Baby Boomers, for example, may not respond as well to the reissuance of the classic game system as Millennials (although, if the Baby Boomers have fond memories of playing games with their children—or even of watching and cheering them on—they might respond quite well).

Sensory Details

Many times, nostalgia involves making a connection to memories through one or more of our senses. We’ve found, for example, that people across multiple generations have fond memories of shelling peas—hearing that unique snap as a pea pod is opened by the hands of a loved one, the feel of the pod beneath your own fingers, even that fresh pea scent—and the taste when you pop one or two (or a whole bunch!) of them into your mouth.

Social Media

Pictures that offer up a sense of nostalgia can be ideal for social media, giving people a chance to share those pictures with friends and family who might also enjoy seeing them. These images can be great conversation starters on social media platforms, as well, and could increase the numbers of followers on your channels.

You might see hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday on Facebook and Twitter. If so, then this can be a golden opportunity to share your vintage marketing to an engaged audience that’s ready to take a trip down memory lane, to remember what made those products and services so great.

Vintage Labels

Before the days of the Internet—and before the advent of television—a product’s label allowed people to recognize the items they appreciated. This was definitely true for what was grown by fruit and vegetable farmers, who shipped their produce to grocers in wooden crates. To clearly identify the produce being shipped, farmers would glue colorfully illustrated paper labels to the end of crates in a way that identified a particular farmer. That way, people could choose food that came from the farms and orchards they knew and trusted; using modern lingo, from the right brands.

Once cardboard boxes could be pre-printed, though, the use of these labels fell out of fashion, and the era when highly recognizable, unique and artistically delightful labels seemed to fade into yesteryear. However, today people are once again appreciating these charming labels. Some even collect them, enjoying a nostalgic glimpse of the farming industry’s history.

Author Bio: Lee Jones is happy that The Chef’s Garden is bringing back a limited-edition of throwback labels as a tribute to when farmers proudly put their names on their fresh vegetables and other produce.