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Is Nostalgia Spending Your Money?

July 31st, 2014 · No Comments · Consumer Info

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2018)

Is Nostalgia Spending Your Money?Next time you catch a commercial romanticizing the past, hold a little tighter to your wallet. As it turns out, when you’re feeling nostalgic, you’re more likely to spend money. And that’s just the reaction marketers are counting on.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, evoking feelings of nostalgia in consumers weakens their resistance to spending.

About the Study

Researchers discovered that consumers asked to remember the past were more likely to spend more on a set of products than those asked to think about present or future scenarios.

But this note of caution to consumers is not limited to the consumption of products. Evoking nostalgic feelings also increases charitable giving.

Bottom line: Nostalgia minimizes the importance of holding on to your money.

But Why?

The researchers suggest the relationship between nostalgia and spending has to do with social connectedness.

When we remember the past fondly, we find ourselves longing for a simpler time – a time when we valued community and relationships over money.

Maybe that’s why we see so many ads evoking iconic images of the 1950s.

The 1950s marked the beginning of American consumerism, when spending money was considered a patriotic act.

As noted by historian Elaine Tyler May:

“The values associated with domestic spending [in the 1950s] upheld traditional American concerns with pragmatism and morality, rather than opulence and luxury. Purchasing for the home helped alleviate traditional American uneasiness with consumption: the fear that spending would lead to decadence.”

Could it be, then, that subconsciously, when consumers respond to an ad depicting family life in the 1950s, the guilt of spending dissipates? After all, spending money not only buys positive experiences that bring the family together, but it also supports the American economy.

What About You?

Do you find yourself particularly responsive to nostalgic marketing campaigns? What about nostalgic “retro” products? And if so, do any particular campaigns or products come to mind?

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