From music and fashion to business and tech, nostalgia for and obsession with the ’90s is starting to surface in more than just friendly conversations over a glass of wine with friends.
No doubt the ’90s was, hands down, the best time to be alive, so it’s no wonder why so many artists and companies are incorporating ’90s-influenced concepts into their branding. The ’90s for us millennials represented sheer bliss. It was a time when technology was starting to improve, but hadn’t yet occupied each part of our day. We spent time outside with friends instead of having to log on to a social media account to get a glimpse into each other’s lives. We showed up to each other’s’ houses unannounced and, more times than not, overstayed our welcome. We dreaded having to part ways because we knew there wasn’t much at home to keep us entertained—except for our shows we watched faithfully before bed. We wore clothes that we thought we’d never let resurface again, and we, for the most part, were happy little millennials.
The year is now 2016 and all of those fond memories are flooding back in more concrete ways. Turn on a radio and I guarantee you’ll hear a song where an artist has sampled a ’90s beat. Walk into a clothing store and you’ll find at least one thing you probably already owned back in the day. Turn on the TV (or open your laptop) and you’ll find that one of your old favorite shows has been rebooted. Walk outside and you’ll see little Marty McFlys navigating around on their hoverboards (I know Back to the Future wasn’t the ’90s but it was still one of my favorite movies growing up).
But reminiscing just isn’t enough. What makes these companies successful at tapping into our hearts as well as our wallets? What makes us want to go out and download a song we’ve, in a way, heard before? Why are we flaunting our crochet-haltered crop tops and high-waisted shorts as though we’re living in a time other than our own? Why are we so eager to turn on an old episode of Hey Arnold and other old cartoons made for children? Nostalgia for the ’90s is one hell of a feeling. We’re reminded of our golden years, and companies are swooping in before the feeling is lost; before we actually start to get the hang of this whole adulting thing.
In an article posted on Millenialmarketing.com, the author calls the act of companies and brands purposely using nostalgia in a target audience “nostalgia marketing.” You can see this being put to play with companies such as Netflix, BuzzFeed, Nickelodeon, Pixar, American Apparel… just to name a few. Companies are keeping us in a perpetual #ThrowbackThursday and we are more than happy to go along with it. The ’90s cradled and nurtured us into who we are today. With our hectic schedules, while we’re just trying to navigate through life, it’s a breath of fresh air to be taken back to our childhood when things were much simpler. The only question left in my mind is how long this trend will last, and what will be the next marketing strategy to engage our generation?
In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for that As Told By Ginger reboot, deciding on a second color for my Poetic Justice braids, and failing miserably at trying to keep my balance on my niece’s hoverboard.