Nostalgia Marketing – A Blast To The Past

Netflix original series Stranger Things is an undeniable success. But what is the reason behind this TV show’s monumental success? Other than lovable characters and an amazing storyline, there is one marketing ploy at the heart of why millions of people across the world are falling in love with this show: Nostalgia marketing. Over the past few years, nostalgia marketing has continued to trend; however, today, it is at an all-time high. 

To learn about other the other marketing tactics utilized in Stranger Things check out Marketing 101 As Told By Stranger Things. 

What Is Nostalgia Marketing?

Nostalgia marketing is a powerful tool for marketers. It’s when a company or brand pairs an existing idea with their own product. It is an extremely influential tactic as everybody loves the chance to reminisce about the past. It invokes past memories and a general feeling of happiness. And, this happiness can actually lead to an increase in purchases. 

The Target Audience

Nostalgia marketing is extremely popular among Millenials, but it is also becoming increasingly popular among Gen Z as well. While millennials enjoy reliving the 80s through Stranger Things, Gen Z is also attempting to “relive” the past through fauxstalgia.

Fauxstalgia is characterized as someone who craves the past even if they didn’t live through it themselves.¹ This can be easily seen in a few recent fashion trends: overalls, denim on denim, scrunchies, and chokers.  Care to guess Stranger Things’ primary viewership? You got it… the show has a huge millennial and older Gen Z following – between ages 18 to 29 to be exact. This is why nostalgia plays an extremely powerful role in the show. It allows a majority of millennials to relive the good ‘ole days of colorful clothes, fun slang, and of course, very big hair. Meanwhile, for Gen Z who weren’t even alive in the 80s…Stranger Things lets them vicariously live through the characters, AKA fauxstalgia.

Significance of this tactic 

Studies have found that nostalgia makes people spend more money.² This is because a reminder from the past can bring about comfort as well as happy memories. This can explain why so many brands were eager to have a partnership with season three of Stranger Things. In fact, 75 different brands developed a partnership in honor of season three. 

Curious about what the brands partnered with Stranger Things for season three? Learn more here. 

Goes Beyond Stranger Things 

Netflix’s Stranger Things isn’t the first brand to utilize this marketing tactic. In fact, Nostalgia marketing has been on the rise for the past few years. Adobe, Coca-Cola, and many other brands have been taking advantage of this tactic.

Children Of The 90s

Microsoft appeals to its target audience by giving them an opportunity to reminisce about their childhood. It creates a powerful sense of shared experiences. This ad allows consumers to feel that they have a strong bond with Microsoft. This is also a highly sharable piece of media; something that people will share with friends and family without hesitation.

Curious about what agencies are working with Microsoft? Visit here to see who is helping with their marketing efforts.

Everywhere You Look

Full House originally aired in 1987-1995 and is undeniably a nostalgic childhood symbol for multiple generations. Before Netflix revived the show within 2016 with the Fuller House reboot, a few of the show’s stars appeared in an ad for Oikos. As seen in the clip below, the actors don’t fully reprise their Full House roles. However, the dynamic between the trio is easily similar to that of the sitcom.

Everyone loves Bob Ross

In 2016, Adobe saw society’s obsession with Bob Ross and put it to their advantage. They did this by creating a series of Bob Ross tutorial videos to promote their “Adobe Photoshop Sketch” application. 

See which agencies are helping Adobe with advertising, branding, and more.   

Understanding Nostalgia

Research shows that we prompt nostalgia moments as a “self-soothing mechanism.” We all have our favorite moments. Those times of our lives that were the best of the best. Recalling those memories tend to bring a smile to our face. And, Lira Stone explained that the overlap between memory and emotion is unique to nostalgia.³ 

According to research conducted by the University of Southampton, nostalgia makes people more optimistic about the future. In addition to this, it can also help increase resilience. 

We aren’t alone in recollecting these moments. Today, social media plays a huge role in reminding us of those special times. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…all of these social platforms remind users of posts made from years ago. Prompting us to reflect back on the good ‘ole days. 


Brands are using nostalgia to generate brand content that is more memorable for their audience. Not only are they making something memorable, but they are also building a connection. If you are on the search for your next agency, check out Agency Spotter to find the perfect partner for you.



¹ Entrepreneur | ² EJCR | ³ The Shelf | ⁴ ScienceDaily

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Nicole Schuster
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