Today’s marketers are using “nostalgia marketing”—associating brands with retro concepts or fads popular in the past—to give target audiences a soft spot for their company.  According to research conducted by the University of Southampton, nostalgia can “counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety” as well as conjure up positive emotions.  Nostalgia marketing is especially effective for millennials, with “hectic work schedules, unrelenting responsibilities and more.”  Reliving something from their past is a stress reliever, and brands that help them do that are going to get attention.

            Airbnb, the popular lodging service that offers an alternative to a hotel for budget travelers, put nostalgia marketing to good use in its latest campaign with partner Mattel, the toy company that manufactures the famous Barbie doll.  According to an article in Architectural Digest, a real-life Barbie, Valeria Lukyanova, will be listing her Malibu Dreamhouse for rent on Airbnb for two nights while she visits Austin, TX.  For only $60 per night, a lucky group of up to four guests will get to experience their childhood dream come true.  They will be surrounded by hot-pink walls, swim in an infinity pool with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and even have the opportunity to cook with the help of local chef Gina Clarke-Helm, using Barbie’s signature pink kitchen supplies.  Airbnb will also make a donation on behalf of the guests to one of the charities involved in the Barbie Dream Gap Project.

            By partnering with Mattel to give guests this once-in-a-lifetime experience, Airbnb is strengthening the already meaningful connection the brand has with its target audience.  While guests of all different demographics use Airbnb, their biggest clients are millennials: Generation Y and Generation Next.  According to a survey from LendEDU, more than a quarter of current college students polled had stayed in an Airbnb.  As these young adults gain full-time employment and earn more disposable income, an increasing number would rather spend money on travel than buying a home. And when they travel, they look for a more personalized, local experience than a hotel room would offer.  Airbnb is capitalizing on this personalization factor with its Barbie Dreamhouse listing.  Millennials like to experience a sense of comfort and familiarity more than any other generation, and what better way to do so than by (affordably) staying in a house centered around the doll they used to play with?  Additionally, the charitable donation Airbnb will be making entails social responsibility that millennials think about when making a decision on a brand.

            Small Business Trends article cites a research paper in the Journal of Consumer Science, finding that customers are willing to spend more on a product when it incites them to think about the past.  The guests who stay in the Barbie Dreamhouse and those who were aware of the campaign will remember Airbnb’s efforts to help them relive their childhood, and that connection will motivate them to spend a little more than they might otherwise because they know the brand cares a lot about them.

Written By: Anthony Luparello

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