Everything old is new again

How nostalgic packaging came to be and why we’re so eager to indulge.

Nostalgia is having a moment in the design of all types. It has a knack for coming full circle. Whether fashion, furniture, toys, telephones, or packaging, the phenomenon’s influence is increasingly felt in our daily lives.

Much like stepping into a time machine, packaging can transport the audience back to a bygone era they now remember fondly. Brands can’t move quickly enough to incorporate throwback trends into a contemporary setting; studies show that customers who have an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value (source: Motista).

Those who haven’t yet been drawn in by the promise of a loyal band of customers ask themselves the same question; how do we create an emotional connection with our customers?

And that’s precisely the question September’s London Packaging Week will answer. The two-day event will prepare you to create the perfect pack for your next launch in beauty, drinks, luxury or FMCG.

Appealing to our inner child

Nostalgia: it’s as inescapable as it is hard to pin down.

Rightly understood, it means committing fully to the pull of the past while trying to understand what makes the impossibility of return so appealing.

Even for the younger generation, the promise of experiencing a different era is enticing.

We’re all guilty of nostalgia from time to time. Surveys indicate that 90% of people in the UK spend ‘at least some time fondly thinking about the way things used to be’.

Demand for a nostalgic past stems from dissatisfaction with the present. During some of the most unsettling years of our lives, we’ve watched brands and designers seek to offer comfort by reinventing the familiar.

Like picking antiques, designers similarly love to dig for inspiration in heritage logotypes, books, and posters. In a digital world dominated by fast-paced micro-trends, this aesthetic has had enough staying power to cement mainstream appeal. It has even started to impact product design and tech platforms.

But nostalgia isn’t just a fun, frivolous trend or marketing ploy — it’s good for you. There are profound psychological benefits to remembering the good old days, especially those from your life. So, if you’re looking to give your customers a bliss boost, the key could be looking backwards.

For some, nostalgia means reviving classic designs, while newer brands without history adopt retro designs.

Using classic prints, patterns, fonts, retro colour schemes, and layouts can help give your product a vintage look. The key here is balance, keeping things clean and minimal while incorporating vintage elements.

Long-standing brands returning to their previous packaging demonstrate longevity and trust. How often have you felt confident buying a product because it’s been around for a long time? If you’re a new brand, you can still add to purchasing confidence by creating a vintage look. Retro styles send signals of trustworthiness and give the impression that your product has stood the test of time, even if it’s new!

Knowing your target audience inside out is key to incorporating nostalgic packaging. You’ll need to consider your customer’s age, mindset, and cultural dynamics to ensure it’s a good choice for your product. As you look to capture market share in turbulent times, be mindful of the product category and the era from which you want to borrow.

This has been a popular trend, and some markets are oversaturated. Success isn’t guaranteed, but failure is certain if your packaging fails to represent an image unique to your brand.

Thousands of brands have already registered to attend the four dedicated shows at London Packaging Week – PCD for the beauty market, PLD for the drinks market, Packaging Première for luxury packaging and Food & Consumer Pack for the food and FMCG sector.

Why? Like you, they want to meet the market’s top suppliers, learn from leading brands and designers and discover the latest materials and packaging products that will define their next packaging project.

Appealing Leading with nostalgia

Given today’s chaotic social environment, it’s no surprise to see an eclectic mix of trends in visual branding.

Right now, successful packaging demonstrates optimism and vibrancy. It represents ‘fun’ as a counterweight to the melancholic news cycle. A youthful nostalgia, a sense of escapism, the comfort of familiarity; nostalgia is the creative glue that binds emerging design processes in product packaging. The task now is about reviving playful, comforting design elements of the past.

Just as designers utilise colours and shapes to evoke certain product experiences, nostalgia can attract users who share feelings for certain times.

Creatives are expressing themselves in bigger, bolder, and brighter ways that brim with personality. Whether by mixing clashing colours or matching disparate patterns and elements, it’s a creative carte blanche or an invitation to push the boundaries.

So, ask yourself, or more specifically your business, the age-old question: what would you do if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

No matter how hard you try, the present won’t change when you go back. But this brief foray into the past represents the architecture of modern happiness. Better still, it’s a sizeable shot in the arm for the adage that old is indeed gold.

From movies to packaging and social media posts to targeted ads between them, nostalgia has morphed into one of the most potent forces of our era.

Check out our socials

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit

The latest packaging projects