Think back to simpler times when life moved at a slower pace. Saturday mornings were filled with the joy of crunchy cereal or fluffy waffles, followed by Saturday morning cartoons, neighborhood games, and frosty treats.

These memories, rooted in the comfort of home, hold timeless allure.

In today’s fast-paced world, filled with constant change and uncertainty, consumers are seeking solace in the memories of their younger years. This trend has sparked a response from the food and beverage industry, where innovators are tapping into the beloved flavors and formats of the past.

The nostalgia trend presents an opportunity to draw on food and beverage products that consumers remember and love. Simultaneously, “newstalgia” allows developers to reimagine cherished classics, adding sophisticated twists for mature audiences while introducing younger generations to these delights for the first time.

In this post, we’ll explore how these trends are shaping the food and beverage market, offering exciting possibilities for both consumers and creators alike. We’ll discuss:

The Nostalgia/Newstalgia Boom

The market for nostalgic products is growing as more consumers look to food and beverage products to escape from the challenges of their busy lives. Identified as a top trend in 2024, research indicates that 40% of global consumers say they seek out products and flavors that remind them of the past and simpler times. 

This sentiment resonates not only with those who experienced those times firsthand but also with a broader audience who romanticize the past.

Enter “newstalgia” – the trend of revitalizing old favorites. And currently, the spotlight is on the 90s, captivating Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and even Gen Z, who are discovering the decade’s defining products and campaigns for the very first time.1

Regardless of the decade in the spotlight, data shows that a significant percentage of individuals across various age groups report a love for things that remind them of the past: 

  • 76% of individuals aged 22 to 45
  • 69% of those aged 45 to 64
  • 70% of those aged 65 and older 

Tapping Into the Market

What makes a successful nostalgic/newstalgic product?

Crafting a successful nostalgic product requires a balance of familiarity and innovation. 

Utilizing familiar ingredients adds an authentic touch that resonates with consumers. Prioritizing real, wholesome, and nutrient-dense foods enhances the nostalgic experience while also aligning with the growing demand for healthier options. 

Taste is another crucial component, with exceptional flavor experiences having the power to take consumers on a sensory journey to those cherished moments with the products they enjoyed. 

Finally, crafting stories and narratives that tap into consumers’ nostalgic sentiments can further enhance nostalgic appeal and create powerful emotional responses. Drawing inspiration from iconic 90s marketing campaigns, brands can transport consumers back to a time when neon colors, catchy jingles, and memorable slogans dominated the food and beverage advertising landscape. 

By channeling the spirit of decades past, brands can create a deep sense of personal connection, fostering loyalty among consumers. 

What are consumers searching for in their nostalgic/newstalgic products?

Consumers are seeking more than just a simple rehash of childhood favorites; they crave a thoughtful and sophisticated reinterpretation that blends the comfort of the past with the excitement of today. 

Aligning with other recent trends, this means incorporating comforting, familiar flavors and formats but elevating them with modern twists and innovative ingredients. Whether it’s a sweet potato pie – but a cookie – or a nostalgic candy reimagined as a “swicy” beverage, consumers are drawn to products that offer a fresh take on their cherished memories. 

Consumers are also excited to engage with their favorite brands in ways that were previously unavailable. Active involvement with a decision to bring back a product or simply the ability to share their experiences on social media fosters a deep sense of connection and community. 

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is another key to a successful nostalgic product. Whether it’s an on-the-go snack or an easy meal solution, consumers expect products that seamlessly fit into their busy lifestyles without sacrificing quality or flavor. This also presents another opportunity to create an innovative twist on a popular format or flavor from the past. 

Even amidst the hustle and bustle, these products can serve as a break from the chaos of daily life, allowing consumers to momentarily reconnect with simpler, happier times. 

How do I stand out in the market?

Standing out in the market requires a strategic approach that emphasizes quality, benefits, and versatility, especially in the realm of nostalgic food. As consumers become more health-conscious, incorporating real, wholesome, and trusted ingredients can help set a product apart. 

Key benefits like nutritional advantages or unique features like sustainability and upcycling are also good tools for differentiation. Emphasizing the value proposition helps attract and retain discerning consumers who seek products that align with their values and preferences. 

Finally, taking advantage of versatile ingredients may also help to maximize appeal. By incorporating ingredients with diverse flavor profiles and culinary possibilities, brands can create products that meet consumers in their moments and stay relevant when demands for different flavor profiles and cuisines meet nostalgic food experiences. 

And as always, it has to taste great. Nostalgia is as much of a state of mind as it is a physical product. If it doesn’t deliver on taste expectations, the consumer loses that sense of pure enjoyment they’re seeking.

Your Partner in Nostalgic Food and Beverage Development

As farmers since 1856 and food processors for over 50 years, Van Drunen Farms has witnessed the evolution of countless consumer products. We’ve watched the decades come and go and know that success can hinge on the quality of the ingredients. 

Take our baked product portfolio, for instance, which evokes the nostalgic comfort of homemade pies, muffins, and other irresistible treats. The experiences and emotions associated with ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, and apple can help transport consumers to cherished memories. 

Partner with us to harness the power of ingredients like these to create products that resonate with both mature and younger audiences alike. We’re eager to learn more about your project and collaborate with you on crafting irresistible offerings. 

Let’s Talk

1 Datassential. “2024 Food Trends Report.” 2023.