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Memory Lane

Ads infused with nostalgia drive customers your way.

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This story appears in the September 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

"Remember how it used to be?" That question can be a powerful inducement to buying a once-laborious product that has been transformed into a zippy new wonder-widget. The visual contrast can be dramatic--think of commercials for kitchen gadgets and gardening gizmos in which the old is juxtaposed with the new.

This approach might be termed "negative nostalgia." But memorabilia can provoke a strong positive response, too. Bringing back sentimental favorites of another era is a way to make the good ol' days pay off, especially for nostalgia-loving baby boomers. Check out the audio aisle at your local electronics emporium, and you'll likely find a radio housed in the retro look of a bygone era. The same goes for hardware, furniture and, of course, fashion. Advertisers are very strategic in how they push consumers' nostalgia-inducing buttons.

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