The Nostalgia Factor

This past week I took a walk down memory lane seeing Canadian artist Corey Hart’s final concert in Montreal, Quebec. Corey Hart is not an artist that people talk about anymore, other than to say ‘yeah, I used to love him as a teenager’ when a song is occasionally played on the radio. Yet, there I was with one of my besties, belting out every song along with him, word for word, not missing a beat – just like old friends who easily fall back into a rhythm. Some songs made me a bit teary but all of them made me nostalgic for my youth.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It evokes feelings of happiness and rose-coloured memories of a time when everything seemed simpler – even if it really wasn’t.

In marketing, nostalgia is designed to trigger the positive feelings that we associate with the past. The reason this type of marketing is so effective is because it’s easier to put a positive spin on the past than on the present. With our current social and economic climate still hovering in uncertainty, people want to recreate the feelings of security that the past seems to offer – and they are ready to open their wallets for it.

At the same time, for today’s youth, retro is considered cool. (Yay! I’m cool.) Look at the products we have today: headphones have shifted back to the ginormous look from 70s; acid wash jeans are in fashion magazines again (why!!!??) and new artists are mashing up retro songs to make their name (*cough* PitBull).

The good news is that while our wallets might be taking a hit, research on nostalgia has shown that nostalgic thinking actually increases self-esteem and feelings of optimism. I agree. For a brief moment, I was once again a carefree, invincible 18-year-old as we walked back to the hotel after the concert wearing our sunglasses at night.

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