Consumer trends are constantly evolving, and popular products or services can change in the blink of an eye. Nostalgic escapism, for example, has surged in popularity in recent years, dominating all corners of business and culture.
To understand why nostalgic escapism is trending, business owners can lend knowledge from recent scientific studies. In Psychology of Popular Media, experts explored the relationship between nostalgia and well-being during the pandemic. It concludes that people consume nostalgic media (including music, movies, television, books, and video games) to escape the turbulence of COVID-19.
Nostalgia allows customers to take a break from the present. Here, we will explore how this is influencing consumer behaviours, and how your business can utilise this trend.
Nostalgic escapism is centre stage in fashion. The nostalgia pendulum, a theory explored by Patrick Metzger, argues that cultural trends operate on a 30-year cycle as the consumers of yesterday have become the creators of today. This explains why current style trends are reminiscent of pre-millenium fashion.
Characteristically ‘90s trends are dominating popular fashion. Everything from corsets to slip dresses are making a comeback, and the slouched suit is taking the fashion industry by storm once more. So much so, there has been a 55% surge in searches for ‘wide-leg suiting trousers’ on Lyst, and tailored two-pieces featured in the Stella McCartney spring/summer 2022 collection.
Nostalgic fashion has also influenced television shows, such as Euphoria (2019-Present). The series has seen widespread popularity, and one episode alone attracted 13.1 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max. The nostalgic aesthetics of this show has sparked a number of trends, including a revival of soft punk and denim two pieces.
In addition to fashion favourites, nostalgic escapism is influencing the popularity of retro retailers. In recent weeks, searches for vintage store displays have risen from 32 per week on December 26th to 72 per week on April 17th. This retro revival can include something as whimsical as neon signs. In fact, searches for this décor staple have increased from 53 per week on December 26th to 65 per week on April 17th.
These vintage trends are a great way for business owners to think creatively about their stores. If you’re eager to experiment with decorations, consider taking inspiration from as far back as the mid-20th century. The ‘50s aesthetic can successfully attract customers to your business, whether you own a corner shop or an ice cream store.
This retro revival can go beyond the rules of the nostalgic pendulum. Consumers may be influenced by the unfamiliar, otherwise thought of as anemoia, reminiscent of a period before their lifetime. This type of nostalgia can be just as influential as a yearning for a personal past.
Classic food and drink
Nostalgic escapism goes beyond fashion and retail. In recent years, a number of classic food and drink staples have made a comeback. Sweet treats from childhood are fun to say the least, whether it’s vending machines that give you a selection of gumballs for 20p a pop or commercial slush machines that mixed nostalgic flavours of blue raspberry and strawberry together.
The global commercial slush market, for example, is forecast to be worth $391.3 million by 2026. These drinks are a timeless staple that fit into the nostalgic escapism trend perfectly. Retro confectionery is also rising in popularity. During the pandemic, online sweets sales surged by 64 per cent. This included classic treats – from Haribo to BonBonVille and even penny sweets – and was a great way to escape the turmoil and uncertainty of lockdown.
Indeed, nostalgic escapism is driving consumer trends. To capitalise on this, ensure your business is able to provide customers with the products they desire. A corner shop owner, for example, can produce an impressive ROI on a commercial slush machine. On the other hand, an entrepreneur in the fashion industry may utilise nostalgia to deliver trending garments. Do you think this trend is worth its salt?