Retro marketing: explanations and 4 examples

Nostalgia has become a real fashion phenomenon among brands. Today, more and more of them decide to play on the emotions and happy memories experienced by consumers to attract them and retain them. To do this, they will offer them offers that take up the codes of their past. This is where retro marketing comes into play. This innovative marketing concept comforts consumers, thus reinforcing their desire to buy.

What is retro marketing?
Retro marketing is a concept based on the use of the past and nostalgia in its marketing strategy. It consists of combining a product or service with elements that recall childhood memories to provide an attractive offer to consumers.

In marketing, 3 types of nostalgia exist:

  1. Individual, when childhood memories are scripted.
  2. Collective, when consumers are sent back to an idealized past.
  3. Stimulated, when a non-direct experience with a product has taken place.

Also known as nostalgia marketing, retro marketing can take many forms:

Visual elements that bring a vintage touch to new products, whether it's a logo, packaging or colors.

  • The reissue of a product that was released in the past or an older version of a product.
  • A retro ambiance or design with period furniture that awakens childhood memories in consumers.

Retro marketing is a concept that can appeal to several generations of consumers. Indeed, from an early age, a child will have the ability to identify a product or logo and remember it. Childhood therefore occupies an important place in retro marketing, because it is during this period that the habits of purchase, consumption and the heritage of a brand are transmitted.

The benefits of using retro marketing in your advertising strategy

The use of retro marketing in an advertising strategy offers many benefits:

  1. A source of reassurance and comfort for consumers.
  2. Creating a climate of trust.
  3. A more human relationship between consumers and brands.
  4. The development of a competitive advantage.

  • A source of reassurance and comfort for consumers

At a time when society is changing enormously, particularly with the appearance of new technologies, consumers will seek comfort in the memories of their past. Retro marketing has the advantage of reassuring them by relying on the use of brands and products related to their youth.

  • Creating a climate of trust

Retro marketing allows brands to build trust with their audience. This marketing concept is based on the use of codes from the past such as colors, typology, slogans or characters that accompanied the consumer when he was younger. The goal is to plunge the most nostalgic back into the innocent world of their youth while providing them with a sense of security and comfort.

  • A more human relationship between consumers and brands

Based on the appeal to emotion, nostalgia marketing humanizes the relationship between brands and their audience. This represents a real benefit for consumers, who are exposed to digital technology on a daily basis. This strategy allows them to re-establish emotional connections as they have known them in the past.

  • The development of a competitive advantage

By awakening the memories of their audience, brands will have a real competitive advantage. Thanks to retro marketing, they will be able to market a product or service that consumers have already known in their youth and which requires less effort to convince them to adhere to it.

The limits and risks of retro marketing

Although a proven trend, nostalgia marketing also has certain limitations. The question is whether this strategy will have as much success and impact in the future as it does today, especially with the arrival of new generations. Indeed, it is possible that these new generations are no longer interested in this concept, or so, not for a long time. Given that today's society is ultra-connected, the use of retro marketing can be risky. It is therefore necessary to use this method with discernment for it to be effective.

Tips for using retro marketing in your strategy

  1. Define the elements that make the history of the brand

To effectively use the past and nostalgia in their strategy, brands need to determine if retro marketing is a good selling point for them. To do this, they must list all the aspects that have marked their life, ie their products, the characteristics of their offers, their logos and their slogans. Recent brands, on the other hand, must seek out the elements of the past that gave rise to their creation.

2. Combining old concepts with new technologies

As part of a retro marketing strategy, it is interesting to mix elements of the past with the features and practices of today. The idea is to make the consumer experience even more captivating. The use of new technologies is an excellent way to relaunch an old product on the market. Here are some examples of practices to use to make new out of old:

  • TV advertising on social networks, online videos and display.
  • The marketing claim to promise consumers Proust's madeleine.
  • The native ads.

3. Highlighting the brand's heritage

To have a strong brand image, there is nothing better for brands than to benefit from a heritage value. They must therefore seek out all the archives that have a link with their past. It can be products, notes, photos, sketches or even purchase orders. All these elements represent so many buried treasures that will bring them real added value.

4. Create nostalgic storytelling

After having gathered all the elements that constitute their heritage, the brands will be able to use them to build a good storytelling. This marketing technique consists of telling a story around a product or service. It allows brands to arouse emotions and interest in consumers. Storytelling is a powerful method of communication, because not only does it facilitate the memorization of a product, but it also aims to create links between different generations.

5. Opt for vintage communication elements

The resurgence of happy memories and the good old days is mainly through communication with vintage elements such as colors, typology and logo. In a campaign that relies on nostalgia marketing, the ideal is to use:

  • Soft colors.
  • A retro, handwritten font.
  • A minimalist and old logo.

4 examples of advertising campaigns in retro marketing style

1 - Milka

Many French consumers remember the Milka marmot. In 2019, this friendly mascot returned in a new advertisement 20 years after its first appearance to promote its new Patamilka spread. The phrase “And then the marmot, she puts the chocolate in the aluminum foil” was even used again up for the occasion.

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The Adidas brand is known for its iconic Stan Smiths which have marked the minds of all generations since the 1960s. 50 years after its launch, this timeless pair of sports shoes has made a comeback on the market. With 70 million pairs sold since their creation, Adidas' Stan Smiths are a timeless success that has earned them an entry into the Guinness Book of Records.

3- Burger King

In 2021, Burger King rethought its visual identity for the first time in over 20 years by adding a vintage touch. The fast food giant's new logo is reminiscent of the one that was deployed in the 1970s to 1990s. It uses exactly the same red, orange and beige tones as the old logo.

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4 - Bonne Maman

Nostalgia and authenticity are concepts on which the Bonne Maman brand relies to sell its jams. Vintage glass jar, lid that refers to old tablecloths, handwritten label: all the ingredients are there to bring consumers back to childhood. Bonne Maman also uses advertising that evokes parents and grandparents, but also "homemade", something that seems to have disappeared for years. Consumers were thus able to rediscover the taste of a product they knew during their childhood and which brings back very personal memories.

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