Stop & Shop goes back to the future with nostalgic brands

Discussion
Source: Stop & Shop’s “90s Throwback”
Nov 05, 2020
Tom Ryan

Stop & Shop has launched a special section on its website spotlighting a curated selection of food items harking back to the 1990s.

In a press release, the supermarket chain noted that, while nostalgic shopping isn’t new, social distancing and other changes in lifestyles due to the pandemic “have created an increase in sentimental shopping and a yearning for what’s familiar and comforting.”

Many of the throwbacks items — including Fruit Gushers and Chips Ahoy! — align with the strong comfort food trend that has emerged during the pandemic as consumers seek familiarity and convenience in uncertain times. Other offerings include Eggo Waffles, Totino’s Pizza Rolls, Lunchables, Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, SunnyD and Capri Sun.

At the same time, Stop & Shop noted that the online shift in grocery has heightened demand “for more personalized e-commerce experiences, where consumers easily can find online a curated index of what they want.”

Trends from the nineties had been making a comeback in the years before the pandemic marked by the revival of spaghetti-strap tank tops, scrunchies and chunky platform sneakers, as well as a number of the era’s TV shows such as ‘Friends.’

As Stop & Shop noted, two snacks popular from that decade, Dunkaroos from Betty Crocker and Twix Cookies & Crème from Mars, have come back this year.

General Mills this year relaunched a number of cereals with ‘80s formulations, including Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp and Golden Grahams. Jennifer Jorgensen, VP marketing for General Mills cereal, said in a statement, “Our fans crave a taste of nostalgia.”

Some food brands that have returned with fanfare over the last decade include Twinkies, Suzy Q’s Cakes, French Toast Crunch and Crispy M&Ms.

Nostalgia is believed to be holding particular appeal over the last few months as people reminisce for more normal times. Wrote Collette Eccleston recently in Adweek, “Nostalgia takes us back to the past. It’s familiar and certain, which enables it to fulfill a core psychological need for security.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a bigger opportunity for food brands and grocers to tap into the nostalgia trend? Will nostalgia-based marketing land among the trends receiving a boost after the pandemic is over?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Any cardiologist reading about this trend is going to need their own version of comfort food. A kale smoothie or maybe a spinach salad."
"This is not a new trend but a trend that gains popularity at times and then recedes again."
"Doesn’t seem like this will hurt, but depending on the products, may not result in big sales lifts, especially for those focused on healthier choices."

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19 Comments on "Stop & Shop goes back to the future with nostalgic brands"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

One of the trends we have been tracking for some time is retrophilia, which is basically consumer attraction to retro and products of the past. Over the last few years this dynamic has been heightened as people are seeking the (maybe imagined) simplicity and calm of years gone by. The impact on product buying is hard to assess, but a lot of brands have already tapped into the trend with, for example, P&G launching Crest products in retro packaging and Mountain Dew doing the same. These stand out on shelf and capture consumers’ attention.

I think Stop & Shop’s idea is a good one, and it probably doesn’t cost very much as it is executed online. However it falls short of being a completely immersive experience as the packaging and branding of the products is still modern.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I would not argue with your data, but what is retro about these products? Most of these brands are relatively available every day, though my daughter buys me my favorite Pop-Tart because I can’t find brown sugar/cinnamon in the city. When the grand kids come over, Froot Loops are on the breakfast menu. You can find Eggo waffles in the family freezer of both my kids.

Brett Busconi
Guest

This is how our son learned what Pop-Tarts, Eggos, and Fruit Loops were. Trips to visit his grandparents. 🙂 I agree that these products are still out there.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Other than the products having been available or the fact that they were big during the 1990s, there is nothing particularly retro about them. That’s what I meant about the experience not being immersive. The Crest and Mountain Dew examples I mentioned are where brands have recreated old style packaging design which captures consumer attention and can improve appeal. This is the Crest example I saw last last week.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The Crest example is particularly smart, because there is a significant message that goes with it. I am not sure Froot Loops can say “a nutritious breakfast since 1963.”

I do enjoy it when the NFL and MLB have their retro uniform games.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

I think that much of this is driven by parents of young children who relate to the products, TV shows and games that they grew up with. They now are home with their kids and passing on some of these feel-good products and experiences to their kids. Some of these nostalgic trends will stay after the pandemic as some of them were likely to come back into fashion even if we did not have a pandemic to live through.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I love this! I think being nostalgic about easier times with products we grew up with is great and it introduces a new audience for those products we all thought were cool at the time. It probably doesn’t garner a ton of sales, but it’s nice to see everyone once in a while.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I see a huge opportunity for food brands to leverage those nostalgic brands because the kids who ate them grew up and are now parents. It definitely can be a smart marketing play and also raises awareness to their kids. In an age when “innovation” in food can mean a new flavor or twist, marketing is all that many have.

As for staying power when this is over, if the brand can leverage its equity and carry it over to newer items formulated for today’s consumer, they might have longer-term success.

As for the Stop & Shop example, I am unclear how I would have found that landing page because the Stop & Shop webpage has no mention/call-to-action about anything in this article. I would have liked to have seen a bigger splash and a fun one at that – these e-commerce sites sure could use some personality.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

As noted, these feel good products help stressed consumers to cope during the times of this pandemic. With their presence on Stop & Shop’s website, there is no reason to believe demand will shrink post COVID-19. I think this is a tremendous differentiating factor developed by Stop & Shop. Consumers considering what retailers to shop online now have a destination for these products which is not offered by competitors. As for in-store options, we have seen the success of the wall or aisle of value. How about a nostalgia aisle or section in the supermarket?

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Any cardiologist reading about this trend is going to need their own version of comfort food. A kale smoothie or maybe a spinach salad.

Ryan Grogman
BrainTrust

Nostalgia and throwback marketing has been popular for quite some time in the entertainment industry via countless TV show and movie reboots and retro-gaming. And everyone is aware of how cyclical apparel can be in resurfacing and repopularizing old trends. I think bringing back popular brands and items in the FMCG space makes a lot of sense to drive attention as well. I’m not sure they’ll move the needle too much in terms of total incremental revenue, but launching a “new” product that already has brand resonance ingrained with many consumers is a great way to grow sales.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

These products never really went away, they’ve just lost market share as consumers’ tastes and demands for better nutrition and quality change. Items like food that evoke a less interesting time in our lives are going to resonate. I don’t think they will gain significant market share, certainly not at the levels they enjoyed decades ago. Back then they really didn’t have to compete with the number of healthier options that are available now.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust
This is not a new trend but a trend that gains popularity at times and then recedes again. According to Mintel, 71 percent of consumers enjoy food from their childhood. Certain categories can be successful with retro marketing and bigger shelf and online presence. In the past, I have seen the candy category drive interest by re-introducing classics such as Necco Wafers or Big League Chew. Additionally, I have seen retailers such as Raley’s introduce a new four-foot section on specialty/retro sodas such as Nehi Orange or Barq’s in a single bottle form that can generate excitement for older generations as well as introduce these classics to the younger generations. In an era where we are seeing high consumer anxiety, retro marketing and merchandising may be a way for retailers to surprise and delight consumers that need economical but fun ways to escape and even bridge the gap across generations. As other BrainTrust members mentioned, it may be good to test online then perhaps roll out an in-store merchandising strategy where it makes the most… Read more »
Ken Morris
BrainTrust

I think the impact of the pandemic will last a lifetime so this is no short term phenomenon. Stop & Shop has hit upon a trend, like mid-century modern, that resonates with people now and I believe it will hold true for some time.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

Many people are finding comfort in those times in their lives that were simpler and less stressful. Although one person may find these products retro, others might still see them on the market. Offering products with retro packaging and look might take that a step further. Doesn’t seem like this will hurt, but depending on the products, may not result in big sales lifts, especially for those focused on healthier choices.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Eggo waffles: haven’t they ALWYS been around? (I first thought maybe we were talking about bringing back “Spry” or something.)

Anyway, I’m of a mixed opinion: if either retailers or manufacturers have stumbled on something that works, then fine … go with it. But my intuition suggests it is at best an ambivalent time for this. No doubt there are many with a desire to escape into the past, but I think “the past” they want is February more than the ’90s … this might just be one bit of weirdness too many.

Bindu Gupta
BrainTrust

If done right, retailers can create a unique experience with the nostalgia trend during and after the pandemic.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

Certainly this is a time to cling to the familiar and to comfort food. Nostalgia-based grocery items accomplish both. Since this pandemic has had the world on lock down, many consumers have poked fun at stress-eating and mindless snacking. But, it’s real and the pandemic has led to weight gain (or “Quarantine 15”) for many riding it out at home. These products are not really going to help us stop eating our feelings or curb that 3-hour long snack. However, nostalgia-based grocery may very well ensure that a health and fitness crave will be on the rise once this pandemic is over. I doubt Sugar Smacks will stick around for that.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Yes. Anything to attract the shopper and keep them in the store longer is a good thing. Nostalgic trends is just one more reason to stay.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Any cardiologist reading about this trend is going to need their own version of comfort food. A kale smoothie or maybe a spinach salad."
"This is not a new trend but a trend that gains popularity at times and then recedes again."
"Doesn’t seem like this will hurt, but depending on the products, may not result in big sales lifts, especially for those focused on healthier choices."

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