Nostalgia Bad - Vintage Good! / PromoJournal - Marketing Matters

Nostalgia Bad - Vintage Good! / PromoJournal - Marketing Matters

Generational marketing is an imperative to successful business. This is nothing new. What is new is that the very people now responsible for marketing communications to their peer group as well as consumers with high disposable resources (older rich people!) don’t fully understand what emotions are responsible for consumer behavior.

Rather than confuse things with chronological labels like Xers, Early or Late Boomers, etc., I prefer to simply look at two easily defined groups - those that grew up in a household that always had a computer (Commodore 64 arrived in 1982) and video games (Pong showed up 10 years earlier) and those that did not. The “not” group has been running things for a couple of generations now but this period is coming to a close.

The children and grandchildren of the “not” group are now dominating business in number and rapidly in positions of authority. The average age of a CEO today is 54 years. For a CMO or CFO that drops to 48 years. In general and acknowledging that there are always exceptions, This group has little nostalgia. 

What is nostalgia? The consensus is that nostalgia is an improved, happier or even romantic relocation of an earlier period and a comfort in having objects from the past around to remind people of those times. The objects are familiar and were actually part of the lives of people who now fondly remember those times. Perhaps you have first hand knowledge of a situation where a parent has carefully preserved “cherished” mementos of their children’s early life - school report cards, the plaster ashtray from kindergarten, a collection of favorite toys - only to have the now adult children show no interest at all in those “treasures”. 

It seems that not enough time has transpired for the “Pong” group from their earlier memories to need the emotional boost that nostalgia provides. 

But - when it comes to “vintage” things change. Vintage is cool! From garment styles, new imprints that look old and worn, ball caps with cuts and damage, “retro” anything, reproduction home furnishings, replica products from hand tools to automobiles - vintage is huge. Internet search for vintage clothing brings back 661 million hits! Even vintage hotels for those that want a little elegant history while they travel, shows neary 90 million results. So what’s the difference?

People that seek out vintage are making that choice for themselves. Nostalgia is somebody else's memories. The “pong” group are unmoved by their parent’s nostalgia and have not yet built enough “past '' in their own lives.

For a marketer (that’s you - someone that sells products, services or both) an interesting thing is that for the older “not” group, vintage and nostalgia are pretty much the same thing! Putting the original corporate logo on a “vintage” ball cap for a business celebrating their 50th anniversary will be appealing to both groups. 

Our industry (Promotional Products Media) has a tremendous selection of items that fit right in with corporate promotion with a vintage perspective. A quick search on an industry platform shows nearly 300 vintage ball caps, more than 1,000 vintage Tee Shirts, even 526 vintage Keychains! 

Don’t wait for your clients to ask for vintage promotions. The time to suggest looking at vintage is really obvious. Business anniversaries, corporate events, employee retirement gifts, mergers and acquisitions, new technology introductions (companies love showing innovation from early on), antique stores, and business milestones. Don’t forget that there is a cool factor to vintage and that alone can be enough for a client to go in that direction.

Vintage style promotional products and programs also work great with national celebrations and recognition. 2023 will be 115 years for Mother’s Day, 113 for dad! Administrative Assistance Day was first recognized in 1952 - 71 years ago. These and many other special days give businesses, your clients, an opportunity to support and publicize their brand.   

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