20 Ways Your Small Business Can Use 90s Nostalgia Marketing

10 Ways Your Small Business Can Use 90s Nostalgia Marketing

Nostalgia is a great way to get folks to buy what you’re selling. Small Business Trends contacted  99designs COO Pamela Webber to find 20 ways your business can use 90s nostalgia marketing.

“Tapping into a consumers’ memories is one of the most effective ways to connect on an emotional level,” she writes. “But, it’s not just about the “feel-good” factor. Research shows consumers are actually willing to spend more when thinking about the past.”

Navigating the world of 90s nostalgia marketing requires a nuanced approach; here are some key pointers to guide your strategy:

  • Pick the Right Generation
  • Use the Right Amount
  • Get the Details Right
  • Take Advantage of The Trickle Down
  • Tap into Themes and Images
  • Don’t Get Stuck in One Era
  • Be Respectful
  • Don’t Overdo It
  • Decide If It Works for You
  • Mix the Old with The New

90's Nostalgia marketing

90s Nostalgia Marketing

Pick the Right Generation

If you can sell your goods and services to Gen Xers, you’re in luck. This unique group, nestled between the Boomers and Millennials, has a profound hunger for reminiscing the good old days.

Webber, diving deep into their psyche, emphasizes this penchant they have. It’s not just a random claim either.

A study by Think with Google unveils a staggering statistic: a whopping 75% of Gen Xers frequently surf YouTube, not for the latest viral sensation, but to immerse themselves in videos echoing yesteryears, connecting them to past events that shaped their youth.

Use the Right Amount

This is about how much retro you can use with your brand. Webber suggests you don’t always need to go all in.

“A common method is taking a modern logo and tweaking it to look weathered. Or even use an established date to highlight the company’s history,” she writes.

1990's Nostalgia marketing

Get the Details Right

Diving into the vast ocean of marketing, the beacon of authenticity shines the brightest. It’s not just about slapping a vintage logo or a catchy jingle; it’s about evoking genuine emotions.

Customers, with their intricate web of memories, can instantly detect insincerity. To truly resonate with them, brands must handle these memories with the utmost respect.

Carelessly altering them might lead to skepticism. But it’s also a dance on a tightrope – ensuring you aren’t infringing on copyrights or failing to acknowledge inspirations.

It’s about striking the perfect balance between paying homage and maintaining originality.

Take Advantage of The Trickle Down

Your can target specific consumers who haven’t lived through a specific era. For example, Millennials might not remember the pre-smartphone era. But they might be fond of the “old tech” styles and music from their parent’s youth.

Webber explains.

“Depending on current pop culture, there can be a trickle-down and trickle-up effect.”

90's Nostalgia

Tap into Themes and Images

The realm of marketing is vast, and while it’s tempting to cling to overt symbols of a bygone era, Webber recommends a subtler, more nuanced approach.

Small businesses, especially, should see beyond the obvious – past the blockbuster movies or chart-topping hits of the 90s.

Delving deeper into the cultural tapestry reveals a treasure trove: the unique design aesthetics characterized by distinctive fonts and rebellious color palettes, or the pulsating rhythms of music genres that defined a generation.

Harnessing these broader themes can anchor campaigns in authentic nostalgia while appealing to a broader audience.

Don’t Get Stuck in One Era

It’s good to look beyond 90s nostalgia, to not put all of your marketing eggs in that one basket. Webber predicts that while the 90s might be all the rage right now, marketing will shift focus to round the corner into early 2000s nostalgia very soon.

Don’t overcommit resources.

For those looking ahead, it’s essential to understand how 90s nostalgia trends might transition into early 2000s focal points. This table contrasts iconic marketing elements from both decades to help strategists anticipate shifts:

90s Nostalgia TrendsPotential Early 2000s Trends
Pop culture referencesEmphasis on internet emergence
Retro logos and fontsEarly social media icons
Old tech" stylesFlip phones and early PDAs
Analog media (tapes, CDs)MP3 players and early iPods

90's Nostalgia marketing

Be Respectful

If you ‘re going to reference another brand, make sure you’re doing it respectfully. And it needs to make sense for your product.

“When Jack Daniels marketed its blend of whiskey to commemorate Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. As it was his drink of choice, the brand piggy-backed on the anniversary in an authentic and effective way.”

Don’t Overo It

Nostalgia is a powerful elixir, but like all potent concoctions, it demands moderation. Overindulgence can blur the lines, drowning your core message in a sea of emotions.

The essence of effective 90s nostalgia marketing isn’t about unabashedly evoking memories; it’s about a dance between reminiscence and relevance. Webber stresses the importance of this balance. By weaving the rich tapestry of the past with the vibrant threads of your brand’s value proposition, you can create a narrative that both tugs at heartstrings and firmly establishes your brand’s place in today’s market.

Decide If It Works for You

“Consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, fashion and beauty can take successful advantage of this approach,” Webber writes.

“Although even forward-thinking technology brands are also getting in on the trend.  Microsoft jumping on the Stranger Things band wagon. And rumors circulating that Apple is considering a return to its iconic rainbow-hued logo.”

Certain industries are perfectly poised to harness the power of 90s nostalgia; these sectors stand to gain the most:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods
  • Food and Beverage
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Forward-thinking Technology Brands

Long story short is you need to do a little research. Check out to see if your competition has used this method.

Mix the Old with The New

This type of marketing works best when you use both the old and the new. Don’t forget to pair your 90s nostalgia marketing campaigns with social media.

Post when you’re target market is online. A little research with tell you what times and days are best.

Webber finished with an encouraging prediction.

“What’s old is new again, and nostalgia is one of 2023’s biggest creative trends. It’s everywhere, which also means it’s not going away any time soon.”

90's Nostalgia marketing

More Ways Your Small Business Can Use 90s Nostalgia Marketing

Collaborate with 90s Influencers

Engaging with popular 90s celebrities or influencers for marketing campaigns can significantly enhance the nostalgia appeal. By collaborating with figures who were iconic in the 90s, businesses can create a strong emotional connection with audiences who fondly remember that era.

These collaborations can take various forms, from social media endorsements to special event appearances, lending authenticity and a significant nostalgia factor to your brand.

Utilize 90s Pop Culture References

Incorporating recognizable elements from 90s pop culture in marketing materials can establish an instant connection with the target audience. This strategy involves referencing popular 90s TV shows, movies, music, or fashion trends in advertising campaigns.

These nostalgic references can evoke fond memories and positive associations, making the marketing message more engaging and relatable to the audience.

Host 90s-themed Events or Promotions

Creating 90s-themed events or promotions is an effective way to engage customers and offer them a unique, nostalgic experience. This approach can include hosting 90s-themed sales events, product launches, or even in-store experiences that recreate the atmosphere of the 90s.

Such events not only attract customers but also create buzz and excitement around the brand, potentially leading to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Revive 90s Design and Packaging

Bringing back 90s design aesthetics and packaging styles for products taps into the nostalgic value while offering a fresh look to younger audiences. This strategy can involve re-introducing old logos, using vibrant colors and patterns typical of the 90s, or even re-releasing products in their original packaging.

This blend of nostalgia and novelty can attract both older customers who remember the original designs and younger ones drawn to the retro appeal.

Implement 90s Music in Advertising

Using iconic 90s music in advertisements can evoke nostalgia and create an emotional bond with consumers who grew up during that era. This strategy can involve using popular 90s songs or jingles in TV commercials, radio ads, or online videos.

The familiar tunes can instantly transport listeners back to the 90s, creating a sense of warmth and familiarity with the brand.

Leverage 90s Technology Nostalgia

Utilizing 90s technology nostalgia in digital campaigns can add a fun, retro touch. This could involve designing digital ads or social media posts that mimic the look of old computer interfaces, using sounds like dial-up modems, or referencing popular technology of the 90s.

This approach resonates especially well with tech-savvy customers who appreciate a humorous nod to the technology of the past.

Create 90s Nostalgia Social Media Challenges

Initiating social media challenges or trends based on 90s nostalgia can engage a wider audience. These could involve challenges related to 90s fashion, dance moves, or even recreating scenes from popular 90s movies or TV shows.

Such interactive campaigns can go viral, significantly increasing brand visibility and engagement on social media platforms.

Offer Limited Edition 90s-themed Products

Introducing limited edition products with a 90s theme appeals to both nostalgia and the desire for exclusivity. These can range from special product designs inspired by the 90s to re-releases of vintage products.

Limited edition runs create urgency and can drive quick sales while attracting both nostalgic customers and collectors.

Share 90s Throwback Stories or Content

Sharing throwback stories or content from the 90s on social media can effectively connect with customers’ past experiences. This could involve posting old advertisements, sharing stories about the brand during the 90s, or even featuring customer memories from that era.

This approach helps in building a community around shared memories and enhances brand-customer relationships.

Incorporate 90s Slang in Marketing Copy

Using popular 90s slang in marketing copy adds a playful and authentic throwback feel to communications. Phrases like “All that and a bag of chips” or “Talk to the hand” can add humor and appeal to a certain demographic. This strategy should be used judiciously to ensure it aligns with the brand’s tone and is relatable to the target audience.

Ready to take a trip down memory lane? Here’s TLC’s iconic ‘No Scrubs’ to take you right back to those 90’s vibes!

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.