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Feeling Nostalgic?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Posted by Susan Minniear, Senior Account Manager, CPG West

Sometimes, upon hearing a Debbie Gibson song, I find myself transported to the eighties as a kid; fondly remembering puffy paint sweatshirts, “Family Ties” or when Bret Michaels was in a hit rock band and not on a VH1 reality show.  There’s comfort in remembering special moments, people, places or products from the past.

And of course, I’m not alone in this type of sentiment.  As it turns out, recent studies are showing that people turn to Nostalgia more often during tough economic times for comfort and memories of simpler, happier times.

A recent article in the LA Times suggests that Nostalgia “buffers people from loneliness and eases them through hard times”; “increases the perception of social support” and “gives us stability when we live in a time of constant change.”

 Considering the powerful emotion of Nostalgia will be critical for Marketers as we foray into the unknown this year.  It’s difficult to say how long this recession will last.  But in the meantime, consumers will be comforted with warm and fuzzy memories of days past.  So, it is even more important for us to consider a consumer’s emotional state when creating our messaging.  For example, perhaps it’s associating food products with special family memories, or lowering prices on products to remind consumers of what they used to pay in the ‘good old days’.

Some of the related top recommendations in an article from Harvard Business School include:

  • Research the customer. Instead of cutting the market research budget, you need to know more than ever how consumers are redefining value and responding to the recession. Price elasticity curves are changing. Consumers take more time searching for durable goods and negotiate harder at the point of sale. They are more willing to postpone purchases, trade down, or buy less.
  • Focus on family values. When economic hard times loom, we tend to retreat to our village. Look for cozy hearth-and-home family scenes in advertising to replace images of extreme sports, adventure and rugged individualism. Zany humor and appeals on the basis of fear are out.
  • Adjust pricing tactics. Customers will be shopping around for the best deals. You do not necessarily have to cut list prices but you may need to offer more temporary price promotions, reduce thresholds for quantity discounts, extend credit to long-standing customers and price smaller pack sizes more aggressively.
  • Maintain marketing spending. This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.