Nokia 3310 and the Power of Nostalgia Marketing

"A modern classic reimagined."

That's the tagline for the "new" device from phone manufacturer Nokia. If the name feels like a blast from the past, it's because Nokia has been on the periphery of the smartphone sector for quite some time.

Perhaps that's why the Finnish company went back to the drawing board for its latest line of phones, one of which sticks deliberately close to its original design: the Nokia 3310.

Nokia 3310 nostalgia marketing

Iconic Appeal

Now that we've passed the ten-year mark, it feels like smartphones have been around forever.

As our recent article on the history of telecom notes, the original iPhone was launched more than a decade ago and its impact has been enormous. Try to think of something that you can't do on your mobile device and we'll show something that an app developer is working on as we speak!

Before 2007, though, there were many attempts to create a phone that the world would adopt. On a smaller scale, the Nokia 3310 can claim a significant place in the history of mobile devices and is remembered fondly by hundreds of millions who purchased it. From its compact size and robust design to the cult appeal of its signature game, Snake, the Nokia 3310 is widely regarded as a classic.

Launched in 2000, the phone represents arguably the first iconic mobile phone that was accessible to everyone. More importantly for Nokia, the 3310 established the brand as a primary player in the market.

Little surprise, then, that the company is leveraging that nostalgia by resurrecting the device as a budget entry in its new line of mobile devices.

signs and logos of classic brands

The Power of Nostalgia Marketing

Announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the revamped 3310 overshadowed several more modern devices released by Nokia. The higher-end phones like the Nokia 6 should be big news, as they represent the company's first outing with Android and a return of the brand to a market it once dominated.

Nonetheless, it's the retro and childlike Nokia 3310 that is pulling in all the attention, while its higher spec siblings jostle for a secondary mention.

The reason for this is actually quite simple: nostalgia is a powerful tool in any marketer's playbook. 

Nostalgia is something that everyone can relate to. We all have favorite moments and periods in our lives that take us back to a certain feeling or emotion. As well as sensory reminders like distinctive sounds and smells, familiar products and brands can provide that unique hook that transports us back in time. Household names understand this feeling and use it in many different ways.

For example, Coca-Cola plays on the phenomenon every winter with an updated version of its classic Christmas delivery ads and the traditional Santa on the can. The ads and product visuals take adults back to a more innocent time, which creates a feeling of comfort and generates ongoing goodwill for the brand.

A similar strategy to Nokia's can be seen in the automotive sector, where iconic brands like Mini and Volkswagen have both introduced a modern take on their classic cars in recent years. The Mini Cooper and VW Beetle were both reimagined for a new millennium, with varying degrees of success in restoring the brand reputation of each company.

Elsewhere, we can see nostalgia marketing working particularly well with millennials. Classic games and consoles have been rebooted in recent years, from the resurrection of the NES and Sega Genesis to last summer's unexpected surge of interest in Pokemon Go.

Perhaps it's the throwback to what feels like a simpler time, before the Internet - and, ironically, mobile devices - were developed enough to keep us connected 24/7. Or perhaps it's just our selective memory, cherry-picking the best parts of an experience and recalling a rose-tinted view of the event or brand.

Whatever the underlying cause is, the outcome clearly makes nostalgia an important consideration for any marketer willing to experiment.

Think about the local places, people, and events associated with your brand. Which of them could you incorporate into a promotional campaign that puts nostalgia marketing at the core of its appeal?

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