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The nostalgia factor

Marketing childhood products to millennials satiates our hunger for youth

Zoë Strickland | Editor-in-Chief

The other night, I stayed up for three hours playing games to earn points on “Neopets.” Don’t get me wrong, I love Neopia as much as the next childhood-reminiscent 21-year-old, but shouldn’t I spend my time doing something else? The short answer is: yes. Ideally, I wouldn’t spend three hours trying to feed my Neopet enough food to satisfy ten years of neglect.

However, the games identical to how they were when I played them in elementary school sucked me in.

I wasn’t lured in by amazing graphics or complicated tasks. What got me instead was the familiarity of all of my old Neopian haunts. I stayed for the nostalgia, not the neopoints.

Nostalgia is powerful. It kickstarts games like “Pokémon Go” and allows us to justify paying $35 for a 12-pack of Surge. Though there are no real numbers tracking the effectiveness of nostalgia marketing, it has relatively no competition when it comes to being an effective marketing tool. After all, most products that you connected to in your youth were already marketed to you at one point. You’ve already formed bonds and associations with them.

Using nostalgia to market products works because it taps into our emotions. If you have positive childhood experiences with Lisa Frank folders in elementary school, you’re probably more likely to be drawn to the makeup brushes that are reminiscent of Frank’s designs. Humans are naturally drawn to things that we believe will result in positive experiences, so it makes sense for us to subconsciously or consciously emulate the youthful feeling we get when we use games or products from our childhood.

Nostalgia marketing works because we romanticize the past as a way of coping with the future. It’s easier to take a break from homework to play “Neopets” than it is to take a break and read the news.


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