Triggering memories: Nostalgia booming in bakery

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers want that trip down memory lane and bakery manufacturers can tap into this with innovative packaging and marketing, Datamonitor says
Consumers want that trip down memory lane and bakery manufacturers can tap into this with innovative packaging and marketing, Datamonitor says

Related tags Cookie

Evoking memories through packaging and marketing is snowballing in bakery and it’s a perfect fit with consumer sentiment, an analyst says.

Nostalgic packaging and marketing is a booming trend in cakes, home-baking and biscuits, according to global research from Datamonitor. 

“Nostalgia falls under the broader comfort and certainty trend. That mega trend is all about consumers looking to times which were simpler,”​ said Tanvi Savara, associate analyst at Datamonitor.

“It’s about inducing a positive emotional response as consumers anchor their emotions to another time or place where things were simpler and happier. We see a lot of brands trying to capitalize on this trend. There are a lot of products going retro, usually in a limited edition format,”​ Savara told

Betty Crocker’s revamp is a great example of this, she said. The baking brand relaunched its entire portfolio with a new vintage look that included retro packaging, handwritten font and a 1920s housewife on pack. 

Particularly relevant with an aging population

This trend towards provoking nostalgia is even more relevant with an aging population, Savara said.

“It’s even more pronounced when you’re trying to capture the older generations and reconnect them to the brands today.”

The Girl Scout cookies sold in the US are a good example of this, she said. Girl Scout cookies dominate the sector in the first quarter of each year, she said, which highlights the importance of heritage and tradition.

“Girl Scout cookies are deeply embedded in culture – they evoke memories of the past. Perhaps someone was a Girl Scout years before, or a member of their family was,”​ she said.

Home-baking is the perfect fit

While the nostalgia trend can be seen in cakes and biscuits, Savara said home-baking is “the perfect fit”.

“The act of baking itself is about nostalgia through olfactory-evoked recall – where a sense of smell can alter the emotional state,”​ she said. This is a phenomenon that occurs particularly during times of economic downturn, she added.

She also said home-baking has soared because of the comfort it brings during this recessionary climate.

Ensuring long-term success over a one-hit wonder 

While many brands opt for a limited edition nostalgic packaging redesign or marketing campaign, this is not the best choice for long-term success, Savara said.

“Generally, packaging design is probably a safer bet for manufacturers rather than relaunching an older product… But limited editions can only work for short-term success.”

If manufacturers want long-term success, the product needs to deliver on other levels like value for money and convenience that enhance its core nostalgic positioning, she said.

“You can’t simply rely on nostalgia… You can’t bank on relaunching or rehashing a product or advert.”

Bigger, older brands in for a slice

Tapping into the nostalgia trend is also better suited to established brands that have a rich history and heritage, Savara said.

“You need to have a history and heritage that consumers can have an association with to evoke the love of things in the past.”

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