Using Nostalgia to Reach Millennials

Using Nostalgia to Reach Millennials image

Using nostalgia to reach millennials is an effective youth marketing strategy as it relies on storytelling marketing and allows millennials to reminisce about their childhood.

In Pop Cultures Tie-Ins, Past, I discussed the media’s use of past pop culture artifacts to engage millennials and how marketers can use past pop cultural icons to evoke feelings reminiscent of childhood. In this blog, I will explore the importance of using nostalgia to reach millennials and the marketing benefits associated with this youth marketing tactic.

First, take a look at this Extra Gum commercial (beware it might make you a little misty-eyed).

The commercial tracks the relationship of a father and daughter from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. It takes the viewer through major milestones of youth—a birthday party, going on a date, leaving for college—as well as everyday experiences—attending a sporting event, riding public transportation, a winter day, and a day at the beach. All of these events are expertly crafted to emphasize the father-daughter relationship.

Story Telling Marketing Resonates with Viewers

Why does this commercial resonate with viewers? For one, it tells a story.  The commercial isn’t about the product itself, rather it’s about a father and daughter’s relationship and the experiences they share together. Millennials value experiences over consumer goods and this commercial shows how Extra Gum can create memories and foster bonds. The commercial demonstrates how Extra Gum enhances connections; this is especially important among the youth demographic, who greatly value connectivity.

This commercial brings up feelings of nostalgia through the use of childhood and adolescent imagery. Millennials can easily relate to this commercial as their transition into adulthood is relatively fresh. It triggers their own memories of their parents, which millennials care immensely about: “Young people are closer with their parents, and it’s not only emotionally but also literally, spatially. More young people are living with their parents than any time in modern history. And so for these young people, parents become a bigger part of their live.”[1]

Using Nostalgia to Reach Millennials by Creating an Emotional Response

Using nostalgia to reach millennials is a youth marketing tactic that millennials respond well to. Spiers, editorial director of Flavorpill, explains the reasons behind why nostalgia resonates so well with this demographic:

Our audience [primarily millennials] has a lot of nostalgia for certain time periods—primarily, for when they were between the ages of 12 and 18, which is when I think is when a lot of your big cultural milestones happen. . . Anytime you do something that reaches a nostalgia-based emotional touch point, people really respond to it.[2]

Triggering an emotional response and connecting with millennials through nostalgia marketing can be highly profitable. If your ad resonates with them, they will eagerly share it with others. Consider using nostalgia to reach millennials in your next youth marketing campaign!


[1] Thompson, Derek. “Millennials Take Their Parents to Work.” Interview by Jeremy Hobson.  Here and Now.  

[2] Nudd, Tim. “The Sweet, Funny, Listy Ways of Getting Millennials to Love You.” AdWeek.

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