Blue hair. Chucks. Jellies. “One-size-fits-most” shirts. Everywhere I go lately, I can’t escape the ’90s. As Hootsuite and BuzzFeed listicles show, nostalgia sells. And marketers know it’s not just Gen Xers buying it.
On Saturday night, I attended an art opening catering to Millennials. Everywhere I looked, I found retro. Women were dressed like Alyssa Milano during her “Who’s the Boss?” period and men were dressed like plaid, buttoned-up versions of Kurt Cobain. The DJ spun ’90s indie rock and some late-’80s callbacks, like The Cure.
This would’ve been a one-off situation if I hadn’t seen the same scene everywhere: last year in a bowling alley in Berlin, April’s First Friday in Philadelphia, anywhere on the street in New York …
Basically, everywhere consumers need to feel cool, they look like late-’80s or ’90s time travelers.
I blame BuzzFeed for noticing this trend and exacerbating it. Here’s why:
The Jeff Foxworthy Approach
“You know you’re a ’90s baby if …” is one meme. Another is “You know you grew up in the ’90s if …” And then brands joined in years ago. Consider this from Oh My Disney: “You Know You’re a ’90s Disney Kid When …”
Whether the posts and listicles come from marketers or not, the products in them are still for sale: Friendship bracelets, Scuncis for side-ponytails, Converse, Jellies and on and on.
If nostalgia isn’t in a listicle, it’s probably on Pinterest, Instagram or Tumblr — and possibly for sale at Walmart.
Some marketers are making retro their entire business, as is the case for Sammy Davis Vintage, a site with a blog post “1990s Fashion Trends You Can’t Live Without Today.”
Have a Celebrity Wear It/Use It, Without Overt Promotion
Stylish Brands, Not Just Fads, Can Get In on This, Too
So says Hootsuite. Nostalgia makes people feel connected and happy, based on shared memory, which is now conveniently shared on social media, reads the 2014 post. For instance, BMW USA and Dodge share pictures of vintage cars on #tbt.
“Psychologists have done research proving that while it might be kicked off by feelings of sadness or loneliness, nostalgia — which most people experience at least once a week, and often three or four times — ultimately helps people feel much better,” reads the Hootsuite post. “Nostalgia can ‘counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety,’ as well as make us more tolerant and generous. In one study, playing hit songs from the past and giving people the lyrics actually made individuals feel ‘loved’ and that ‘life is worth living.’ ”
What do you think, marketers?
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