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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"I play [games] constantly until 4 in the morning. When I’m not on my game I’m checking my phone. And the whole time I’m doing all of that my desktop is on the internet.”—Male, 22, OH

Twitch is airing every episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, in celebration of the late Fred Rogers’ 90th birthday and the show’s 50th anniversary. The esports streaming service is expanding to nostalgia entertainment (which young viewers can’t get enough of), but they have a unique twist. The show will be available for co-viewing, with popular Twitch streamers chiming in from time to time. (Mashable)

Over one-third of 18-34-year-olds have stopped using a brand after hearing negative news about them, more than any other generation. Among the brands that most consumers said they gave up on were Wells Fargo, Target, Papa John’s, and Uber. However, Critical Mix and kNOW also found that young consumers are more willing to forgive a brand for bad press: While only 30% of consumers overall would use a brand again after a scandal, 41% of 25-34-year-olds would. (MediaPost)

Alamo Drafthouse is bringing back VHS—offering free rentals for Millennials that wax nostalgic for analog products. Their first store, Video Vortex, is opening in North Carolina. Not only are they “fostering a movie-loving community” with the extensive gratis collection of 75,000 titles, but they’re making money off of the added “beer, food, and merchandise.” No VHS player? No problem. They’re renting those as well. (BoingBoingEW)

Researchers were surprised to find Gen Z students were “relieved” to ditch their smartphones for a few weeks. Screen Education’s study of 62 12-16-year-olds found that 92% thought “it was beneficial” to disconnect from their smartphones while they were at camp. And even though 41% admitted they felt frustrated at times, 35% were able to cut down their use after camp and 17% convinced a friend to curb their time spent on smartphones, too. (PR Newswire)

Beauty brands love augmented reality, but an app can’t replace in-store experience. Not only did Ypulse found time and again that young consumers expect Experiencification and flock to marketing activations (like pop-ups), but brick-and-mortar locations build loyalty. People think they’re scamming Sephora when they re-do their makeup gratis, but that time-spent-in-store is really “turning the ‘scammers’ into buyers.” (Quartzy)

"I love my smart phone. It is just like my best friend [and] I just can't do without my smartphone...”—Male, 27, CA

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