Marketers focus on generation that grew up in the ’80s

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Across the country, grown men and women are digging up and dusting off their Optimus Prime figures.

They are wistfully recalling their not-so-distant childhoods, drawn by the hype of the big-budget “Transformers” movie.

“Transformers” is just the latest – never mind the biggest – piece of niche nostalgia from the ’80s that’s been rapidly recycled into mainstream culture in recent years.

And don’t think Gen Xers haven’t noticed.

“I feel like ever since the PT Cruiser came out, companies have seen what a gold mine “nostalgia’ products are,” said Phil Shafer, a Kansas City, Kan., Gen Xer. “So they are just pushing the “back in the days’ or “way back when’ fashions or styles up by 10 years or so to capture the new buying power of people in their 30s.”

The film’s producers took a reportedly $150 million gamble on a movie that targets a generation characterized as cynical and unsentimental – a departure from their baby boomer parents, who love to reminiscence.

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