Digital Nostalgia

Digital technology has a wonderful way of allowing that which was lost to re-emerge. Before we had the ability to make and publish whatever we please, tastemakers always focused on the next new thing, obsessed with selling to the ‘youth market’. Yesterday’s ideas would make their way from the shelf to the bargain bin, and finally be consigned to our fond, yet fuzzy, memories. Nostalgia used to be a few dusty ideas in sepia confined to an antique shop. Fast forward to 2018 and nostalgia is ironically, very now. It’s attracting big bucks from the people who have it, and it might just be the biggest marketing opportunity for people and brands with the wisdom to see it.

We entering an era I call the Dichotomy-Economy. Many markets are splitting into two clear juxtaposed segments: Fast food and Slow food, Discounters and Luxury brands, and to the growing list we we can add Neo and Nostalgia. Never have we seen such a rapid uptake of new technology in history. While we love it, it’s an exhausting, never-ending journey just to keep up. That’s where nostalgia comes in. It’s the metaphorical roadside rest area in an era of exponential change. The panacea we need to a future moving at light speed.

Ask anyone older than the ‘Snapchat demographic’ and it’s a world of old VHS tapes uploaded to YouTube, digital pictures of analogue photos scanned onto social media and Google searches of that thing you loved growing up that you just have to find now. There’s nothing grownups (as my kids call us) love more than buying the things we grew up with or the fantasy toys we could never afford. Notable nostalgia plays from the mainstream, including:

And if they aren’t cool enough for you, check out my 80’s TV, a simulated TV channel taking shows uploaded from the web and creating an actual 80’s TV channel with news sport, advertisements you name it. Just choose your year and off you go.

My friend Scott has tapped into the cult of 1970s and 1980s Aussie Rules footy by running an art-meets-ecommerce project – a limited edition run of old style lace-up footy jumpers. And it’s booming.

This is exactly the point. The reason nostalgia can make such a big comeback (pun intended) is that we have the tools at our disposal to promote something, we can outsource manufacturing and a connected world means that the niche can often survive with thin, yet global distribution.

If you’re a company, brand or individual looking for a high margin future, then maybe it’s the past you should look into.