Nostalgia in Western Europe

June 2021

Nostalgia was a trend prior to 2020, but as lifestyles continue to be disrupted by COVID-19, consumers spend more time in their homes to stop the spread of the virus and increasingly turn to nostalgia to help them cope with the anxiety, stress and isolation that has been brought about by the pandemic. This report examines the relevance of nostalgia for today's consumer mindset, the possibilities brands can explore and the pitfalls that they should avoid in incorporating nostalgia

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Nostalgia is first and foremost about comfort

Nostalgia marketing is about comforting consumers emotionally and psychologically, giving them peace of mind and an escape from the hardships of the present. Nostalgia also creates a sense of connectedness with friends and family through reliving past experiences or values. Nostalgia was a particularly important coping mechanism in 2020, as consumers found their worlds transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nostalgia internet subculture offers the ultimate escapism

Internet-fuelled Nostalgia allows brands to explore their heritage and connect with consumers through shared values via video, music and imagery, allowing them to escape and find community and belonging, even during the pandemic. while they could not physically interact socially, or travel. This kind of digital-first nostalgia takes ground in internet communities and then manifests in IRL behaviours and purchases.

Generational gaps create different nostalgic demands

Young consumers are particularly drawn to nostalgia as they are disillusioned with their reality, but Millennials and Gen Z seek out different nostalgic experiences; one personal and the other historical.

Turning to core values for new ideas about the future

While there is a desire to revisit the past, young consumers do not want to abandon social progress that has taken place and bring back problematic aspects of the past. Nostalgia can be harnessed to embrace aspects of the past, to return to shared core values and qualitative ways of living, in a way that also helps to build a better future.


Nostalgia offers comfort, escapism and a chance to rethink the past
Isolation and health anxieties create perfect backdrop for nostalgia trend
Confinement increases demand for comfort at home
Comfort food has taken on new meaning since the first lockdowns
Budweiser and Irn Bru use archives to strengthen bond with consumers
Reaching into the past with new technology
Algorithm defined playlists and Deepfake evoke emotional memories
Gen Z and Millennials key target audience for nostalgic marketing
Millennials embrace the 1990s as they seek the comfort of childhood
Body shop relaunches its iconic scent for 80s and 90s kids
Playmobil targets the kidult market
Gen Zs retreat to happier times they feel they missed out on
Gen Zers are recreating 2000s fashion trends on their platforms
Nostalgia strategies turn to the past but must bear in mind the future
Burger King’s “new old logo” harks back to its roots
Nostalgia marketing can embrace societal progress
Barbie: a classic toy with a contemporary twist
Nostalgic marketing: what should businesses focus on?
Nostalgia for yesterday, today and tomorrow

Apparel and Footwear

Apparel is the aggregation of clothing and footwear. This dataset covers retail sales of apparel through both store-based retailers and non-store retailers. Excludes black market sales (i.e. untaxed, generated within informal retailing)and duty free sales (travel retail). Items must be new when sold to the consumer; second-hand/used items are excluded. Antique and/or vintage clothing and footwear is also excluded.

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