Marketers Love the ’90s

Blue hair. Chucks. Jellies. “One-size-fits-most” shirts. Everywhere I go lately, I can’t escape the ’90s. As Hootsuite and BuzzFeed listicles show, nostalgia sells. And marketers know it’s not just Gen Xers buying it.

On Saturday night, I attended an art opening catering to Millennials. Everywhere I looked, I found retro. Women were dressed like Alyssa Milano during her “Who’s the Boss?” period and men were dressed like plaid, buttoned-up versions of Kurt Cobain. The DJ spun ’90s indie rock and some late-’80s callbacks, like The Cure.

This would’ve been a one-off situation if I hadn’t seen the same scene everywhere: last year in a bowling alley in Berlin, April’s First Friday in Philadelphia, anywhere on the street in New York …

Basically, everywhere consumers need to feel cool, they look like late-’80s or ’90s time travelers.

I blame BuzzFeed for noticing this trend and exacerbating it. Here’s why:

So says Hootsuite. Nostalgia makes people feel connected and happy, based on shared memory, which is now conveniently shared on social media, reads the 2014 post. For instance, BMW USA and Dodge share pictures of vintage cars on #tbt.

“Psychologists have done research proving that while it might be kicked off by feelings of sadness or loneliness, nostalgia — which most people experience at least once a week, and often three or four times — ultimately helps people feel much better,” reads the Hootsuite post. “Nostalgia can ‘counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety,’ as well as make us more tolerant and generous. In one study, playing hit songs from the past and giving people the lyrics actually made individuals feel ‘loved’ and that ‘life is worth living.’ ”

What do you think, marketers?

Please respond in the comments section below.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.