Millennials and the good old days they never had

Fakestalgia makes us buy things. There are even studies* to prove what advertisers and marketers have known for years: that warm, fuzzy feeling we get from the ‘good old days’ encourages us to put our hands in our pockets, and to heck with austerity.

(*Journal of Consumer Research, October 2014)

So what is fakestalgia?

It’s nostalgia for millennials. Princeton professor, Christy Wampole, describes today’s youth as “manifesting a nostalgia for times they’ve never lived themselves”. With easy access to vast swathes of the past, this tech and media-savvy generation are drawn towards collective memories they haven’t actually experienced. Look at Instagram and its age-filters. Distressed clothing. Hipsters and their old-timey braces, swigging homebrew and getting their beards trimmed in traditional barber shops. Vintage furniture. Casio watches. We could go on.

And it’s no wonder. In a time when last month’s phone is already old hat, looking to the past grounds us when the ‘nowness’ of life threatens to sweep us off our feet. Millennials may be an optimistic bunch but with thefuture feeling so uncertain, this link to the past can be very reassuring.

Millennials are the hottest ticket in town. This is the demographic everyone wants to engage, and these Generation Y’ers have a particular penchant for 90s-inspired stuff. The 1990s is the decade of their youth so brands are going all out to target them with it. And they’re lapping it up. But it has to be done skilfully. Savvy millennials have an in-built resistance to big corporates and a clumsy ‘one size fits all’ mentality.

Authenticity is key

Only the right brand with the right product and the right message will do. So rather than hitting them over the head with obvious or try-hard references, the way to millennials’ hearts is through inside jokes, irony and tongue-in-cheek style and wit. Authenticity and nuance is essential. Anything less will be spotted a mile off and avoided.

All this is good news for us at Robot Food. Half our team are millennials and we’ve got a glowing track record in making nostalgia pay for our clients. Take our repositioning of the Panda drinks brand. Although Panda did conjure up fond notions of misspent childhoods, there were also negative connotations. We repositioned this iconic brand in ways that hit target consumers between the eyes and moved it on to appeal to the next generation. All while retaining that essential nostalgia factor.

We’ve worked similar wonders with Jammy Dodgers, Smash and the recent relaunch of Cadbury Mini Rolls. Right now, we’re hard at work on another national treasure of a brand. Millennials, and all those trying to engage them, watch this space.

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