Nostalgia marketing has become particularly prevalent of late, suggesting that it’s a powerful marketing tool. Claire Baldwin looks at what makes it so successful.

Nostalgia is a great sales strategy in just about any industry.

Fairy Liquid brought back their original green-and-white bottles in 2010 to celebrate their 50th anniversary; in 2017, Nokia released a new version of the 3310, a cultural touchstone that defined a generation; and the Star Wars franchise continues to build on childhood nostalgia to sell everything from fruit to waffle makers.

However, one area that we often see a return to retro packaging designs is that of snacks and confectionery.

Sweet memories

Starburst has just launched a limited edition using their former name of Opal Fruits with Mike Foster and his team at Straight Forward Design.

To do this, they returned to the original packaging design—or, at least, they tried too. Unfortunately, nobody thought to save the original artwork before the Starburst rebrand, and it became lost.

This gave the design team a fascinating challenge, in which they essentially had to recreate the packaging from memory. This demonstrated exactly how memorable certain brands can be, and which elements of their design resonate most with people.

Starburst is just the latest product to harness the power of snack nostalgia to boost sales. In 2008, Monster Munch made a return to their original packaging and larger size of claw-shaped corn snacks; Snickers temporarily returned to their former name of Marathon at the end of 2019, 30 years after the original rebrand; and Cadbury is set to bring back Old Jamaica chocolate bars after 10 years off the shelves.

Why do people love nostalgia?

Nostalgia is an inherently pleasant experience. When we talk of nostalgia, it’s about the good old times. Anything that brings that feeling of warmth and security and happiness back to you naturally recreates that same feeling, and that’s what brands are looking for.

As adults, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by the stress and mundanities of our everyday lives. We might think back to simpler times when these things didn’t matter, the world was a smaller place at a slower pace. Many of us are guilty of saying that things were better “back in my day” and brands are intrinsic to this.

Brands in the background

You may be surprised by how prevalent brands are in important moments in our life. The TV shows we watched, the food we ate, the clothes we wore, the music we listened to; these are all baked into the background of our experiences.

The ability of brands to connect with their customers on a personal level is important, and our nostalgia demonstrates those that were successful in doing so. Getting hold of something that brings back memories of happier days can be exciting, especially when the retro version is a limited edition.

This makes former customers of certain products reach into their wallets for that warm and fuzzy feeling. The fleeting experience of revisiting days gone by might therefore create loyal customers out of people who have forgotten or become disenchanted by the brand.


Along with returning to vintage brands and products, a new phenomenon of ‘fauxstalgia’ has emerged. This is when new designs are created with a retro feel to tap into feelings of nostalgia, or to create a nostalgic feeling for a particular cultural movement that a person didn’t actually experience.

While people may not have any meaningful connection with the brand, harnessing particular colours, fonts, design elements, sounds and materials can help to develop a pseudo-nostalgia and a sense of familiarity. It also creates the impression that a company or product embodies the warm, friendly and reliable feelings associated with nostalgia.

Creative solutions for brands both old and new

DWH are experts in developing brand identities for businesses of all types and sizes.

Whether you’re an existing brand looking to reposition yourself within the market, or a new company looking to establish a particular look and feel, have a chat with us and we’ll help you to develop your ideas into something that resonates with your market.