The captivating power of nostalgia

Volodymyr Hryshchenko/Unsplash

Nostalgia is fast rising as a prime marketing strategy as it offers a comforting influence throughout the pandemic that is only fuelled by social media. According to WGSN proprietary data, social media posts featuring the topic of nostalgia have increased by 19% YoY, with a higher spike in April 2020.

Nostalgia’s particular significance for Gen Z and Millennials is something we’ve been tracking at WGSN for some years now. Join us as we explore why consumers – especially younger ones – are turning to nostalgia and how brands can use it to spark joy and bring comfort in uncertain times.

Simpler is better

“One driver galvanising young users to gravitate towards digital newstalgia is Zoom fatigue. They’re inundated; there’s just so much social media to consume. By paring it back and making it simpler – even if it’s a new app that creates a simpler platform or simpler memes – that’s definitely resonating.”

— Quentin Humphrey, Strategist, Youth Culture, WGSN Insight


Familiarity breeds comfort

“The pandemic has caused consumers to favour the familiar. They have this comforting, rose-tinted view of the past. Gen Z and Millennials are super-overstimulated and bombarded with social interactions and commentary. We’re longing for a time when we can switch off. The visual motifs of the noughties and Y2K resonate with youth because they’re playful, expressive and fun.”

— Polly Walters, Senior Strategist, WGSN Fashion

Anna Shvets/Pexels

Content-hungry generation

“People are literally designing their bedrooms to make social media content. Photo collages are perfect because it’s already a perfectly curated background and you’re set. Lighting comes into that too, especially colour-changing LED strips you can change with a tap of a button on your phone.”

— Cassandra Gagnon, Analyst, WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors

Artem Podrez/Pexels

Stylish form of expression

“The mullet and rat’s tails have become really big. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, these hairstyles were usually associated with anarchic rebellious subcultures. The reason they’ve come back around this time is because people are feeling those sorts of emotions again, as they’re feeling let down by people in positions of power.”

— Annie Johnstone, Analyst, WGSN Beauty

To hear the full discussion tune in to Episode 26 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, The Captivating Power of Nostalgia on Apple and Spotify.

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