by Matt ONeill
September 14th, 2017

Weber Shandwick’s recent CEO Activism 2017: High Noon in the C-Suite report has once again highlighted that Millennials engage with brands very differently to other generations. As part of an Engaging Millennials series, Weber Shandwick Singapore‘s Douglas Yong explores why nostalgia marketing connects with Millennial consumers.

A year ago, the successful smartphone rollout of a 1990s video game series caused a major stir in Singapore. Beginning as a pair of video games inspired by simple bug collecting, the franchise has since grown to hold a special place in the hearts of local Millennials. Those who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s will still wistfully recall the various spinoffs spawned by the series – from an iconic long-running cartoon to collectible cards and figurines.

The franchise’s phenomenal smartphone launch last year not only took the world by storm but inevitably sparked discussions on nostalgia marketing among media and brands.

While #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday are not new marketing trends, the resurgence of interest in brands from the 90s hints that nostalgia’s appeal hasn’t aged. Most already know that it can be a powerful tool to reach Millennials, but what else can nostalgia marketing teach brands about this influential group of consumers?

Millennials want an emotional connection

Millennials are highly skeptical of blatant advertising – impersonal and indistinctive messages fail to resonate with them. Instead, Millennials value having an emotional connection with brands and prefer an interpersonal communication.

By evoking memories of an individual’s own experiences, nostalgia taps into and engages one’s sense of identity. It gives the brand a tangible human personality and an accessible voice that encourages individuals to find meaningful connections between their past and present.

Millennials want comfort and room to breathe

Millennials are looking to get out of the dizzying pace of modern life and its endless demands. The solution is an antidote to the pressures of living in the 21st century. One doesn’t have to look far beyond the rising popularity of adult colouring books and apps to see that Millennials are finding new ways to relax.

Yet, leisure activities like catching virtual fantasy creatures are more than just fun and de-stressing. They create an opportunity for consumers to relive their favourite childhood memories.

Amidst a murky backdrop of overwhelming economic and political uncertainty, Millennials are increasingly seeking memories of the good ol’ days to give them a sense of comfort and stability. Studies have shown that nostalgia offers “breathing room” by promoting self-esteem and a consoling sense of optimism. Brands that create messages psychologically poised to calm and comfort the overworked might resonate more with Millennials.

Millennials want to be part of the conversation

Gen-Y-ers are a generation of sharers – a substantial part of their lives are made public through social media platforms, to cement their best moments and memories captured in photos or short videos. Among the Millennial generation, a higher value is placed on investing in experiences than owning materialistic possessions.

Given the technological advancement in social media, nostalgia marketing has the power to stir up such conversations and connections among Millennials. As more brands leverage on nostalgia marketing to create new experiences, it’s helping people reconnect and relive their childhood experiences through social and interactive ways.

Previously, Weber Shandwick Singapore have provided a firsthand perspective on millennial engagement with Engaging Millennials: A Singapore Perspective.

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