Nostalgia in focus: the trend that rescues flavors and connects consumers to good memories

April 27, 2022

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Nostalgia marketing has strengthened and inspired not only the re-launch of food and beverages that were successful in the past, but also partnerships between brands from different segments

Nostalgia is a trend that, for some years now, has influenced launches in the most diverse segments. From fashion, to architecture, decoration, audiovisual and, of course, food and beverages, this return to the past creates a connection with consumers on an emotional level by retrieving shapes, colors, themes and flavors that bring back good memories. 

A survey conducted by Spotify in 2019 pointed out that 70% of people interviewed remember brands present at special moments in their lives.

In uncertain times like pandemic, this nostalgic feeling has surfaced even more in consumers.

According to Mintel research on flavor and ingredient trends in desserts and confectionery from 2021, 45% of American consumers gave preference to desserts that reminded them of their childhood.  In another study by the market research company, 76% of US consumers aged 25 to 44 said they liked products that reminded them of the past, especially their childhood.

In Colombia, another study by Mintel found that 32% of consumers also like products that remind them of their past.

Looking at other age groups as well, in the U.S., 69% of consumers between 45 and 64 years old said they liked nostalgic items. For the over-65s, the figure is 70%.

Therefore, more than an individual feeling, nostalgia is consolidated as a collective state of mind, which gains even more strength in certain periods. In the food and beverage industry, the strategy focuses on classic or reinvented flavors based on past successes that can convey the sense of belonging, comfort, and connection that nostalgia marketing provides to consumers.

The 90s are in the spotlight, but you have to look beyond Millennials

Mintel’s “Never Say Die Trend” report, which explores consumer receptivity to advertising and marketing inspired by the past, points out that “no matter if you weren’t there the first time, the past is a place to occupy.”

Nostalgia as a trend was identified by the company in 2011, just after the 2008 financial crisis.

Since then, nostalgia marketing has gone strong and food and beverage brands have gravitated around the concept. With the pandemic in 2020, feelings of anxiety and uncertainty began to manifest more intensely, which also made people seek, in this return to the past, a bit of security, stability and happiness.

In general, the campaigns and products launched with the nostalgia claim have a greater focus on Millennials, that is, on products that were successful in the 1990s. This is because Millennials were the children of that period, and today they are the adults between 25 and 44 years old who have recently experienced the financial crisis and the pandemic, therefore, they are more likely to like what reminds them of the past. But as the data points out, other audiences also connect with the nostalgic trend.

The Mintel study points out that while there is great potential to leverage the 1990s to reach this generation, marketers must realize that nostalgia is not the same for all consumers, and by focusing on only one generation, they risk missing out on the potential that nostalgia holds across all generations.

So, there is an opportunity to direct strategies that also encompass audiences from generation X, Baby Boomers, and even the Zs. A little bit of modernity such as NFTs – collectible digital art – can impact the younger generation.

Nostalgia marketing resonates primarily with the generation that experienced that product, but when it involves technology, what is nostalgic becomes totally new to the next generation that didn’t grow up with that brand.

Nostalgia that creates partnerships

The nostalgia trend has also inspired partnerships between different segments, a strategy that results in original collaborations that give a new look to relaunched products, attracting the curiosity of consumers. Fashion and the food industry, for example, have some recent cases of co-branding.

This way, brands can expand their portfolios and reinforce the promotion of products without losing their identity.

Check out a selection of nostalgic products:

In the United States, Pizza Hut has reintroduced the thin dough called The Edge, launched in 1997 and which was a hit in the country.
In an example of co-branding, O Boticario launched the line "Cuide-se Bem Bubbaloo'', with items with a fragrance that recalls the flavor of the popular tutti frutti chewing gum in the 80s and 90s.
In this example, nostalgia is in the rescue of regional culinary roots. Pa' mi Gente is a line from Bimbo Colombia, with four different baked snacks. The products contain flavors that recall the heritage of different Colombian regions. There are also sugar-free, gluten-free, trans-fat-free, preservative-free, and color-free options to meet new consumer demands.
Another co-branding, this time between Riachuelo and Nestlé. To celebrate Nestlé's centennial, Riachuelo has teamed up with the brand to launch a capsule collection starring classic candy brands.
Another example of partnership between fashion brand and food industry. In September 2021, on Brigadier's Day, Anacapri teamed up with Leite Moça to launch the Adocica collection.
Arcor's classic gum, Bolin Frutas, stopped existing in the 2000's and returned in 2020.
DinOvo, also by Arcor, returned in 2020.

Comfort food has always had a captive space in the lives of consumers, who often find in food the coziness they need to face the difficulties of everyday life.

Brands attentive to this behavior have an interesting path of opportunities to explore with product relaunches or co-branding initiatives that surprise and delight consumers. After all, who doesn’t like to relive the emotions and sensations of happy moments in life?

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