Vintage design: what’s so special about the old stuff?

Nostalgia, longing, sentimentality… Whatever the most appropriate term to explain the phenomenon, one thing cannot be argued: old stuff has been getting the attention of many people.  This is why, making reference to what has already “gone by” has become a widespread trend, ranging from audiovisual to fashion, through various creative works. But, after all,

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Nostalgia, longing, sentimentality… Whatever the most appropriate term to explain the phenomenon, one thing cannot be argued: old stuff has been getting the attention of many people.  This is why, making reference to what has already “gone by” has become a widespread trend, ranging from audiovisual to fashion, through various creative works. But, after all, why is the past drawing such attention? And what does vintage design have to do with it? 

#TBT Generation

First of all, nostalgia is not just a feeling. It is actually a mobilizing important behavior, lifestyle and consumer habits. Consider vinyl records, for example. Have you noticed that, for some time now, people have returned to be very interested in them? In the first half of 2019 alone, more than 8.1 million LPs have been sold, and it is expected that this year they will beat the CD market revenue – something that has not happened since 1986. A great example of how appreciation for the past can influence consumption and significantly change a sector of the market, do you agree?

Apparently, the vintage wave is being pulled by a very specific group: the millennials (people born between the 80’s and 90’s). This audience, which is now achieving financial stability, has been keenly interested in experiences that allude to moments of its infancy or even the time of its parents. Fanny packs, polaroid cameras, Concerts of already-ended bands, classic movies remakes, retro-designed products… Who would have thought we’d be reliving it, wouldn’t we?

But what explains nostalgia?

Well, there is an aura of certainty and credibility in what has already happened that causes the past to convey a sense of comfort, especially compared to the unpredictability of today. In a world with so much information and speed, the stability of the old appears as refuge – and this appeal is one of the reasons that make retro such a strong movement.

When a product refers to something we have already experienced, a set of attachment, sensations, and stories in our memory that are associated with that previous experience is triggered. And it is this set of elements that makes nostalgia so strong.

So when a brand can evoke that feeling, it becomes easier to bond with consumers. Proof of this comes from a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which demonstrates how people are more likely to consume when they are feeling nostalgic. One more reason for organizations to be aware of this trend.

Vintage design on the packaging

Of course packaging also explores the phenomenon of nostalgia. Recently, Santa Clara, a coffee brand from 3 Corações group,made a reference to the past using its packaging. In a 60th anniversary commemorative edition, the company invested in a vintage design that was inspired by its first coffee packaging – when the brand name was still Café Nossa Senhora de Fátima. Compare the two packages in the image:

The Original Beer also brought nostalgic elements to launch its canned version. The inspiration came in the shape of the traditional beer cans of the 90s, which were mostly white and with the logo highlighted. A great example of applying a classic aesthetic that makes perfect sense with the brand proposition. 

Another interesting campaign came from Coca-Cola, which relaunched one of its 1980s packaging to publicize Season 3 of the Stranger Things series. The idea was to play with the nostalgic aspect of the can, famous for representing one of the major business failures in the company’s history in the marketplace.

As you can see, there are several possibilities for brands to enjoy the nostalgic wave when it comes to communicating with the public. More than a trend, we are talking about a consumer behavior and lifestyle with enormous mobilization capacity. That’s why creative professionals must be prepared to think about actions that address the past in an innovative way – and to do so, delving into the study of vintage design can be a great decision.