Nostalgia, an Emotional Marketing Megastar

I recently wrote an article where I likened memory and imagination to time travel. Memory is traveling to the past, and imagination is traveling to the future. While we may not physically be able to visit the past, we can mentally do it through remembrance. Of course, that is called nostalgia.

A study conducted by four UK professors with the decidedly unemotional title The Psychological Functions of Nostalgia revealed that the external triggers for creating a sense of nostalgia are the human senses. The taste of a particular food can take you back to your childhood, hearing a song can stimulate memories of long-lost love, and so on. The good professors also state that nostalgic memories are almost always positive. To quote the study, we see the past in “rose-colored glasses.”
According to the study, people of all ages experience nostalgia. It stands to reason, however, that the older you are, the more memories you have to draw from to create those nostalgic experiences. Another demographic factor for invoking nostalgia is location. While we all have some memories in common, people growing up in different parts of the United States or other countries have memories specific to that location.
To summarize, strong emotions create positive outcomes, and nostalgia evokes strong emotions. The more human senses you use to convey a message, the better opportunity you have to create intense emotions.

Advertising and marketing communications are also about creating strong emotions. So, it stands to reason that if you can create campaigns that include nostalgia, you create an emotional marketing megastar.

I suggest you read the research paper Nostalgia as a Tactic for Marketers: The Use of Retro Marketing to Entice Consumer Purchase Cortnee Y. Bunch, the University of South Alabama. It offers reliable information.

My nostalgic writing began in 2013 when I wrote my first novel Mercy Row. This turned into a four-novel series that took place between 1883 and 1975. It’s about a crime family from Philadelphia. I grew up in Philly and included ample nostalgic references to places, things, and foods. I started getting reviews and emails telling me these references had hit a nerve and brought about some fond memories for my readers.

This led me to author real-life stories about growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Most of these stories were posted on a popular Facebook Group page. Over the years, I wrote hundreds of stories, and I received even more positive input than I did with my novels. In 2021 I compiled my first nostalgia book, Philly Tales 1940s-1970s, and in 2023 I released a second Philly Tales book. On a whim, I also created a Philly Tales Coloring Book. I converted over 30 old images to line drawings. My concept was that this coloring book could help older folks engage their grandchildren and explain their childhood histories. If you desire, you can read many of my stories on my website
“Nostalgia is a self-relevant, social, and predominantly positive emotion. Notably, nostalgia is not a passive and futile evocation of one’s past. Rather, it has strong implications for the future. It can alleviate discomfort while inculcating the dynamism and motivation needed for future-oriented action. Future research may delve into additional functions of nostalgia while also delineating its boundaries.”
- Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, Jacob Juhl, W.Y. Cheung

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