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Brief Published: 12 Aug 2020

Consumers Turn to Nostalgic Comforts During Pandemic

Spotify reported a 54% increase in nostalgia-themed playlists being created

Covid-19 has induced a cross-generational craving for the past to act as a buffer against the anxieties of the pandemic. Brands should seize this opportunity by leveraging nostalgic content to connect with worried consumers in search of solace.

  • Peace-Providing Past: Turning to nostalgia is a common psychological response in times of crisis, producing feelings of comfort. A recent study found that during periods of loneliness, nostalgic thoughts help trigger a sense of social connectedness and enhance wellbeing (Frontiers, June 2020). 
  • Feasting on Familiar Foods: During the outbreak, many consumers are seeking comfort and familiarity in the pantry. Thirty-seven per cent of UK consumers are revisiting dishes from their childhood in lockdown (Co-op, 2020). Traditional quick-fix packet desserts have also seen an uptick – including a 336% increase in custard powder sales (Co-op, 2020). 
  • Throwback Entertainment Triumphs: More than half of US Gen Zers (born between 1996-2009) and millennials (born between 1981-1995) have tuned in to familiar, nostalgic TV shows and music during lockdown (MRC Data, 2020). In the week of April 1-7, music-streaming service Spotify reported a 54% increase in nostalgia-themed playlists being created (Spotify, 2020). 
    Brands can engage with this trend through their musical histories. Take inspiration from Cadbury India, which resurrected a 90s jingle for its latest ad to thank consumers for their resilience during the pandemic.
    See Music in Lockdown for more on the industry’s Covid-based engagement innovations.
  • Digital Retrospection Rises: Consumers are actively engaging with the nostalgia trend via social media. Tweets including “I miss” increased by 63% worldwide during lockdown, while Facebook is launching an app, E.gg, which rekindles the look and feel of early-90s internet. 
    We’ve been tracking the rise of nostalgic leisure activities since our 2016 report Playful Escapists. To explore the comfort and positivity consumers are finding in this trend in these difficult times, see Radical Positivity
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