Nostalgia — An effective tool for mutuality in social marketing
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, Nostalgia is a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for a return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. It could also mean the state of being homesick.
Nostalgia plays a huge role in opening an audience’s mind for communication. This is often because speaking to a mass audience requires sharing a common ground and of course, what better way is there to appeal to strangers than evoking pleasant thoughts of childhood or reminding one of the naivetés of growing up.
Reading a section in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, I discovered that Nostalgia was regarded as a psychiatric disorder and was “downgraded” to a variant of depression with identified symptoms including anxiety, sadness, and insomnia. In the mid 20th century, it was labeled a repressive compulsive disorder — possibly meaning the inability of one to achieve personal freedom owing to holding on to past experiences, especially that of childhood.
As frightening as this sounds, the use of nostalgia has proved to be a powerful and positive tool of communication, especially on social networks and other transmission channels. A great instance of this is the employment of pre-Nollywood movies and icons to arouse interest, gain engagement and consequently increase shareability and traffic.
In a 2014 article, Daniel Sim presented findings from an analytical study carried out by two marketing professors in University of France to explore how nostalgia could be used in brand communication. Four categories of nostalgic consumers were identified:
These are those born after World War II between 1928 and 1947 with a possible appeal for advertising with white and black visuals, and an inclusion of iconic music.
These are those born between 1948 and 1967 with a high appeal for products associated with freedom and rebellion.
3. Traditionals (Generation X)
These are those born between 1968 and 1977 with a longing for traditional celebrations.
4. Kidults (Generation Y)
These are those born between 1978 and 1988 with an appeal for TV characters and icons popular in the 80s and 90s.
Having worked in PR and digital marketing for a couple of years with various industries and partaken in online and research activities, it is safe to say the most active participants on Nigerian social media fall under category 4. The brief description of category 4 above corroborates why the use of pre-Nollywood elements in marketing conversations will attract attention and increase the relevance of platforms and individuals.
It is important to look out for patterns in consumer behavior as there is no one way of communicating with varied target audiences; asides from tested and trusted methods such as Nostalgia, the improvement of social network analytics and rich research will take us a step further to understanding these audiences better day-by-day.