2023 is the summer of nostalgia vibes

Brands double down on nostalgia

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The Future. With Barbie, Gushers, and throwback McDonald’s characters making waves this summer, some may wonder if we’ve time-traveled to the 90s. Nope, it’s still 2023. But the desire for brands to roll out new takes on classic hits — and consumers’ willingness to lap them up — might point to a deeper desire to bring back a little color and fun amid endless depressing headlines.

Childhood reboot
This summer, we’re looking back as brands tap into the “kidult” in all of us.

  • On the heels of debuting an adult Happy Meal, McDonald’s revived its character Grimace with a purple milkshake, which the internet took in some wild directions.
  • General Mills is bringing back Count Chocula and Franken Berry as part of its Monsters Cereals collection, which debuted in 1971.
  • The company is also pushing its fruit snacks offerings like Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, and Fruit Roll-Ups, thanks to a redesign by Pearlfisher.
  • The big nostalgia play of the summer is Barbie (with dozens of promotional tie-ins), despite the Hollywood machine being packed with reboots and sequels.

So, what’s with the doubling down on nostalgia? According to Neil Saunders, managing director of retail for data analytics firm GlobalData, “The pandemic caused a lot of dislocation, and nostalgia is something of an anchor.”

Everyone’s looking for a simpler time, we suppose.


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