We don’t all want something shiny and new. Sometimes, we want something which brings us back to a (supposedly) happier and simpler time in our lives. But where’s the best place to buy these remnants of our past? For most Americans, the answer is turning to online resale marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace.
Nostalgia is hot across the board at the moment; think retired logos re-emerging, vinyl sales surging, Pokémon being reimagined in the digital app space, or Netflix’s top 80s-throwback show "Stranger Things."
However, there’s more to nostalgia than these big generational touchstones. Throughout the year, we’ve seen nostalgia continue to emerge more and more — and sometimes in unexpected places. Feelings of nostalgia are very common and familiar, whether you’re a baby boomer from the 50s or a 90s-obsessed millennial. And it doesn’t stop there. In fact, Gen Z is proving to be the generation that say they experience the most feelings of nostalgia on a regular basis.
Nostalgia is a valuable customer feeling, too. Around 40 percent of Gen Zs, millennials and Gen Xers say they would pay more for a personal item such as clothing, shoes or accessories if it reminded them of a previous decade. Males also have a much stronger tendency to pay a premium for nostalgic items compared to females.
Nostalgia can be a notoriously intense feeling. Recent studies have found that feelings of nostalgia can even reduce the consumer’s rational tendency to conserve spending, which is great news for retailers that are able to harness nostalgia in their product offerings.
eBay is doing just this. Late last year, the online marketplace announced the top retro toys that consumers were searching for according to its site data. eBay’s move here is particularly clever. Not only does it tap into needs of its U.S. customer base, who typically shop on the online marketplace over other retail sites to find things they can’t find in stores as well as unique items and collector’s items, but it also taps into a desire for personalization in the buying experience.
Personalized nostalgia is a key trend for retailers to watch. Beyond social media platforms, using personal data to resurface memories or ties to the past is already becoming an important way of encouraging engagement among online, TV and music streaming platforms as their lifespan and depth of consumer data increasingly allows them to do so. Retailers need to be following suit.
Nearly half of millennials feel like there's too much choice online. The so-called “infinite shelf” may be finally falling out of favor of choice-weary younger Americans. Many consumers may be feeling more nostalgic as the services, which in many cases they’ve been using for the better part of a decade, begin to bring them back to a happier place using well-placed product recommendations.
Chase Buckle is trends manager at GlobalWebIndex, a leading market research company that provides digital consumer insights across 45 countries to the world's largest brands, marketing agencies and media organizations.