What ‘90s Nostalgia Means For Your Brand

Child of the 90sAlthough the ‘90s weren’t that long ago, Millennials are nostalgic for the past. They wish for the simpler times when life wasn’t so stressful and the biggest decision was which Beanie Baby to buy. Now, they face high unemployment rates and uncertainty about their future. Understandably, they seek familiarity and reminders of a childlike state to provide them with comfort amidst confusion. What started off as retro revival as an escape from reality has quickly become a full-blown phenomenon. Millennials have a soft spot for their childhood and as a result, the return of ‘90s culture is being seen across all industries.

Everyday, it seems like there’s “breaking news” of the ‘90s popping up again. Lately, much of the buzz has been about “Girl Meets World,” the sequel to the hit show “Boy Meets World”, which will feature many of the original stars. And of course there’s the highly anticipated Package Tour featuring New Kids On The Block, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men. But that’s certainly not all. No Doubt recently reunited, and Destiny’s Child performed together at the Super Bowl. Matchbox 20 is back, Kriss Kross is returning, and Backstreet’s back…alright! New boy band and girl bands are also taking over, and you can’t forget the Spice Girls reunion tour a few years ago, followed up by their performance at the London Olympics. Millennials are emotionally invested in the return of the ‘90s and feel a closeness to the culture in which they grew up. They’re eager to attend these events, share ‘90s news with friends, and they look forward to the future while paying tribute to the past.

Nickelodeon jumped on this trend a while back with “The ‘90s Are All That”, a late-night block of TV shows from this decade. Even Lisa Frank is splashing color into today’s culture with an app and a limited…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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