Anemoia - Why the Next Gen Expresses Nostalgia for the 90s and 00s

The fashion highlights of the 90s and 00s are currently experiencing a comeback in the next generation offline as well as on social media. But where does this phenomenon come from and what insights can marketers gain from it who want to address a young target group?

The phenomenon has a name: Anemoia.

If this is the first time you've heard of the term, don't worry, because you're probably not alone. The term was coined in 2014 by author John König and has been gaining more and more traction recently.

In his book "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows" the author tries to fill gaps in the English language. He gives a name to feelings that we all know, but for which there was none until now. Like, for example, the feeling of nostalgia for a time you couldn't possibly have experienced yourself: Anemoia.

This feeling is not new. In the 90s the music and style of the 70s were the source of inspiration for the youth, in the 00s young people picked up the trends of the 80s again. The phenomenon runs like a thread through youth culture and has now arrived at Gen Z.

Key Insights

  • Anemoia is the feeling of nostalgia for a time you couldn't have experienced yourself.
  • The phenomenon is particularly strong in the Gen Z to see. The fashion and trends of the 90s and 00s are currently experiencing a comeback in the young generation.
  • Reasons for the strong expression are unclear. A connection between the strong tendency to anemoia and social media and mental health cannot be ruled out.

What does this mean for marketers?

Next-Gen agency Jim & Jim will present the most exciting insights from various studies and focus groups on November 4 at the largest social media marketing conference in Switzerland, the WebStage Masters.

In general, marketing managers should ensure that the visual design is in line with the trend of the time - nothing new so far. At the moment, you can score points with the aesthetics of the 90s and 00s.

Examples include the kidcore trend, in which inspiration is drawn from children's clothing. TV characters are incorporated to create an obnoxiously cute and colorful look. The resurgence of fondness for '00s emo bands like My Chemical Romance, TV shows like Friends, and sports brands like Fila and Champion also screams anemoia. Add to that the resurgence of apps like Dispo, which lets you conjure up a disposable camera look for your photos. Gen Z trends are nostalgia-soaked.

Because Gen Z's life is heavily influenced by being online, comparisons to other generations should still be made with caution.

Whether the younger generation is more prone to anemoia these days is hard to answer. Looking at current trends, however, there is a very strong sense of nostalgia in many topics.

An interesting factor in this phenomenon also seems to be mental health. In England, 84 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds reported having suffered from mental health problems at some point, according to Voxburner. Understandably, then, many crave a comforting reminder of a more innocent time. At this point, as is often the case, the influence of "always-on" comes into play. The constant confrontation with news and advertising tires and reinforces nostalgia for a time before social media. A time that Gen Z did not experience and therefore idealized.

About the WebStage Masters

For the fourth edition, the Swiss social media industry will meet on 4 November 2021 at The Dolder Grand Hotel Zurich. The 400 visitors from the fields of marketing, communication, media and PR will be offered a line-up that is quite something on three stages in parallel. Among others, Facebook, Heineken, Groupe Mutuel and the University of St. Gallen will share their latest insights with the audience. In addition to the "classic social media topics" such as social commerce, LinkedIn updates and sustainability communication on Instagram, speakers on topics such as messenger marketing and podcasts will round off this year's programme.

Details about the program and the speakers as well as tickets are available at Webstage-masters.ch. Until the end of August, visitors can still benefit from tickets at the Early Bird price.


This article was produced as part of a media partnership between m&k Werbewoche.ch and Webstage Masters.

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