Niche Advertising/Audience Targeting


Marketers Celebrate The Anniversaries Of Iconic Brands That Tap Into Generation X Nostalgia

March 15, 2019 Sarah Cavill

nostalgia generation x 90s

Marketers and the media talk a lot about Millennials. What they buy, eat, feel — even what they “ruin.” But what about Generation X? After a recent CBS news story neglected to mention Generation X when discussing generations, Xers took notice. Granted, they took notice in a sarcastic, toss-out-a-reference-to-Nirvana kind of way, but what do we know about this – possibly forgotten – generation?

Born between the mid-sixties and 1981, Generation X isn’t attached to their label. In fact, only 41% actually embrace the Xer moniker, and many are still stung from the dismissive “slacker” label of the 1990s. Despite 54% of Gen Xers who feel that brands don’t adequately represent them, Generation X has a lot of spending power and they move a lot of money, outspending all other generations in real estate, entertainment and consumables. Gen Xers are also the founders of nearly 55% of start-ups.

Gen X cynicism is often considered a hallmark of their generation, but there is something that unites this demographic, and marketers have recently taken notice. Nostalgia. And not just for Nirvana. Many brands are capitalizing on the affection Xers have for the eighties and nineties by celebrating the anniversaries of iconic brands and releasing new versions of beloved blast-from-the-past games and sneakers.

Tetris The Original Time-Killing Video Game Is Celebrating 35 Years With A Puma Sneaker Partnership

Tetris Puma Gen x

Last year saw the release of several new iterations of Tetris (Tetris Effect and Tetris 99). The addictive game of fitting tetrominoes together continues to evolve with special effects and gamer customizations that bring the simple 8-bit video game into the modern age, while keeping the fundamental sameness of the original. Coincidentally, the release in 2016 of a mini version of Nintendo’s original game console, pre-loaded with classic 8-bit games, was a huge hit. There were lines around the block, and not enough units to fill demand. This past summer, the Nintendo original console was released again and is widely available (for now). Video games are a big nostalgia item for Generation X, who are not native tech users but are the original gamers.

Most recently, Tetris has teamed with another iconic brand, Puma, for a special 35th anniversary Tetris-inspired sneaker, set to drop in October. Puma is known for their brand partnerships with other Gen X superstars including Hello Kitty, Transformers and Sonic the Hedgehog. The new shoe will be known as the PUMA x TETRIS RS.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure Celebrates 30 Years Of Time Travel With Fun Merchandise

Time traveling Gen X heroes Bill & Ted are being honored with their own action figures and merchandise, on the 30th anniversary of their first adventure. Keanu Reeves might be John Wick to today’s movie watchers, but Bill will always be the “whoa” that launched his career. Incendium Online has acquired the license to create the product line, which includes pins, shirts, hats and the collectible action figures. In the near future, Bill and Ted themselves are making their way back to the big screen for the third time. Other films from the Gen X heyday have also been successful at mining Xer nostalgia, including Jurassic Park, Transformers and Ready Player One.

Xers are a powerful niche market. They may not be as easily targeted as Millennials, who are more prone to self-identify with their generational labels, but tapping into Generation X’s fond memories can unite this demographic and offers marketing opportunities.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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