Nostalgia is big business. I did a Web search for “nostalgia craze” and found all sorts of articles and information. What was more interesting than the craze, however, was the dates of the articles: 2012, 2009, 2002, the ‘90s, the ‘80s, the ‘70s … Here are few examples:
–“Nostalgia with a hint of spice: Bell Flavors unveils top 2013 flavor trends” (foodnavigator-usa.com, 2012)
–“2012’s hottest toy trend: Nostalgia” (abc2news.com, 2012)
–“The nostalgia craze is coming soon to a Pepsi can … near you.” (USA Today, 2011)
–“Nostalgia sells.” (Orlando Sentinel, 2002).
–“There is money to be made from nostalgia these days…” (Portland Business Journal, 1998)
–“Nostalgia Craze Brings Out Best (and Worst) in Music” (The Oklahoman, 1991)
–“A booming market in nostalgia … ” (New York Times, 1989)
In fact, in 1986 the American journalist Bob Greene wrote in the Chicago Tribune: “Nostalgia is taking over America. People lust for the ‘40s; people go crazy over the ‘50s; people idealize the ‘60s. (but) … There will probably never be a nostalgia craze for the ‘70s.” I guess Greene couldn’t anticipate 2013 fashion: “Mulberry goes nostalgic with its 70s-inspired Spring/Summer collection” (thestar.com, 2013).
The oldies are goodies and probably will be forever. As they say, the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. As long as the possibility of the former exists, people will yearn to hold on to something from their past.
This being the case, why not capitalize on it? For inspiration, you need look no further than the three R’s. Not reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic; but the three R’s of nostalgia: refurbish, reinvigorate and resuscitate.
Putting your finger on something from your past is a transformational experience. No sooner do you touch it than you’re young and thin, and have hair in the right places; and if you’re arm skin didn’t flap, you’d swear you could fly. People will pay for that kind of experience.
Just ask New York City’s Kasbah Mod (kasbahmod.com). They’ve turned the business of old typewriters into a moneymaking venture. The number one retailer of vintage typewriters, this company was listed in Entrepreneur magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies” list in 2012. They took something old, and they gave it new life… and customers responded with a resounding yes.
People long for simpler times – not just the Boomers, but the younger folks, too.
According to the Huffington Post, Gen Y-ers (those described by Merriam-Webster as having been born in the ‘80s or ‘90s) get a little misty-eyed at the thought of Beanie Babies®, boy bands and TV shows from their youth. Mediapost.com explains it this way: “They miss the time when everything was easy, when they felt safe and secure. In particular, they pine for their adolescent years, and want to be emotionally transported back to that time.”
In trying to reinvigorate some aspect of the past, ask yourself: What did I love that I can no longer find (or do)? Bakeries – pardon the pun – offer good food for thought. According to the Retail Bakers of America, independent bakeries have gone from numbering 30,000 forty years ago to 6,000 today. It’s not that people don’t love their carbs; it’s that big supermarket chains have replaced the mom-and-pop shops. But who over 40 doesn’t love the memory of going to the neighborhood bakery to get a frosted Snoopy cookie or seeing Mom pick up 2 dozen petit fours for cousin Mabel’s wedding shower? Just because it’s barely breathing doesn’t mean it’s dead.
But if it is dead, it can be raised. Call it the Lazarus approach to capitalizing on the past. A good example is the speakeasy, which came back to life in 2009 and continues to thrive today. These Prohibition Era-style outposts are attracting sophisticated revelers, who are drawn to the mystique of a surly façade, behind which warm interior elements, like tufted leather seats and velvet curtains, set the stage for lush cocktails being served in almost gangster-like secrecy. Chicago’s The Violet Hour is a perfect example. (theviolethour.com)
As to the nostalgia market, it’s anyone goes. Generation X (loosely categorized by Merriam-Webster as those born in the ‘60s and ‘70s) is 84 million strong, according to USA Today. Their buying’s not done, and they love a good Slinky. As for baby boomers, they constitute over a quarter of the population, according to Pew Research, and will be retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day until 2029. Every decade there’s an opportunity to profit from the past. Jump in, and get going. Forget what they say about not looking back.