You are here

Nostalgia makes consumers more likely to spend or donate money

Published on
16 January 2015

The use of nostalgia has been a top trend in marketing in the last few years, in commercials, product lines and even TV shows. The present study demonstrates that feeling nostalgic weakens the desire to hold on to money, and makes it easier to part with.

This article by Jannine Lasaleta is the subject of the 11th GEM LAB Executive Summaries.

From the article

Nostalgia weakens the desire for money
Jannine D. Lasaleta, Constantine Sedikides,
Kathleen D. Vohs, 2014
Journal of consumer research, DOI/10.1086/677227

Nostalgia here is defined as the emotion that arises from memories that often contain culturally meaningful social events such as birthdays, weddings, and holidays, which gives us a sense of strong bonds and connections with those close to us. Given that money and social support are two complementary ways to satisfy their wants and needs - for example, to get to the airport, one can either ask a friend for a ride or pay for a taxi- and they implicitly think that having strong social ties makes money less important. On the other hand, when people think only of monetary concerns, they behave as if they do not need any help from others.

Nostalgia triggers psychological well-being through a sense of greater confidence in our social ties.

And social connectedness offsets the desire for money: feeling strong support from close others makes money less desirable

The authors conducted six experiments that looked at how much people were willing to spend and donate, and their attitudes to money when feeling a sense of nostalgia-evoked social connectedness. In one study, consumers who were asked to think about nostalgic memories were willing to pay more for a set of products than consumers asked to think about present or future events. Another study showed more money given to strangers after recalling, reflecting, or writing about a nostalgic past life event. Interestingly, these people loosened their grasp on money - but not on their time. Additionally, consumers who were asked to think about a past event that evoked nostalgia were less willing to endure unpleasant sounds in exchange for a set amount of money than consumers who were asked to think about an ordinary event.

The insight given by this research is very useful to brands looking to elicit feelings of nostalgia in their promotions and product lines, but it is also highly relevant to charitable and political organizations looking to raise funds. We discover that nostalgia not only makes us less sensitive to how much things cost, but that we are also more likely to donate to other people we do not know, which is the case when giving money to charities and political organizations.

Key points

  • When people have higher levels of social connectedness and feel that their wants and needs can be achieved through the help of others, their ability to prioritize and keep control over their money decreases.
  • During times of recession, when consumers are more reluctant to part with their money, nostalgia remains particularly persuasive and could be used to stimulate consumption.