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Marketing: Nostalgia Sells

Understanding what makes consumers spend is at the heart of marketing practices. Jannine Lasaleta, an assistant professor of marketing at Grenoble Ecole de Management, shares her recent findings on nostalgia. This new research has demonstrated how nostalgia increases feelings of social connectedness and thus weakens people's desire for money as well as their resistance to spending.

Childhood products, such as Mamie Nova, bring back memories of friends and family. The moment we awaken such feelings, we are ready to spend more for Mamie Nova yogurt instead of another brand. Using past memories is a proven marketing strategy. Brands like Mamie Nova understand the importance of brand names that elicit nostalgia. They also count on packaging and advertisements that give off a "retro" vibe. In doing so, brands aim to seduce consumers who are looking for the quality and authenticity they remember from an idealized past. “Instagram's success, for example, can be partly attributed to the feelings of nostalgia created by making Polaroid and vintage photos cool again.” adds Jannine Lasaleta.

Social connectedness vs. financial ties

While the effectiveness of past memories is without question, this new research delves into the specific influence of nostalgia on consumer behavior. The authors of the study conducted six experiments which demonstrated that participants in a 'nostalgic' state of mind were ready to spend more for products than their counterparts who were in a 'regular' state of mind. By eliciting feelings of nostalgia, the researchers also noted that participants were ready to give more money (but not time) to charity. Overall participants asked to remember nostalgic memories were less attached to money than participants who were asked to recall ordinary events.

 “These feelings of nostalgia strengthen a person's perception of social connectedness. As they feel their desires and needs can be met through the help of others, their focus on prioritizing and controlling their money is weakened." concludes Jannine Lasaleta. The result? When the desire for money is lowered, so is resistance to spending. Nostalgia has demonstrated its effectiveness as a marketing tool, especially during periods of recession as people are prone to wish for better times. For companies, decreasing resistance to spending allows for higher prices and in turn higher revenue.


Jannine D. Lasaleta, Constantine Sedikides, Kathleen D. Vohs, 2014. Nostalgia Weakens the Desire for Money, Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming: October 2014, Issue 62.

Read the research article published online

Updated on 22 October 2014 at 10h57 am