May Roundup: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Each month we round up some of the most interesting articles we've discovered, and share a few marketing-related thoughts along with them. 

This time around, Ashley started us off with an interesting piece on the Beanie Baby bubble, so Troy and Andrea decided to follow suit with commentary on other 90's nostalgia items. 

We're curious. How likely are you to purchase something, purely for nostalgia's sake?


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Ashley

The Hustle - The Beanie Baby Bubble of '99

I definitely fell for it. As a child of the 90's, I became a collector of the wondrous Ty Beanie Babies. You could go so far as to say I was a die-hard, spending my weekly allowance on these bags of beans. Our local shops knew me on a first-name basis, as I would call them every other day to see if they had a new shipment, and yes, I would need tag protectors and a special display box for the more valuable beanies.

I needed these toys in my life.

Ty Warner had a solid business plan: sell a limited number to small local shops for a reasonable price, and skip the the giant chain stores. He created a sense of mysticism around his product, keeping consumers wondering if certain Beanies would be retired, or which stores were going to carry the toys. An illusion of scarcity was created, which drove the demand up even more. People became fanatical, robbed stores, and trampled children to get their hands on these little bags of beans.

Finally, in 1999, the end began as Warner announced the retirement of several Beanie Babies and nothing happened. The market didn't swell or increase in value. Collectors panicked and flooded the market even further, trying to sell off their collections. Eventually, Warner announced that all Beanie Babies would go out of production entirely at the end of the year. No one cared. Sales declined by more than 90 percent and most Beanies were worth just 1 percent of their original sale price.

The Beanie Baby frenzy was all part of a bubble:

  1. Hot product hits the market.
  2. Market reacts with euphoria.
  3. Boom in speculation.
  4. Bubble bursts, people panic.

Hearts were happy, people spent thousands, and now the toys sit in claw machines and carnival games.


Troy

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Skyword - What Is Content Marketing? The Unlikely Answer in Baseball Cards

In the spirit of writing about childhood obsessions, I’ll take a moment to write about my obsession with cards.

Baseball cards and football cards were a huge part of my childhood. I would say almost pivotal.

They were a key part of birthdays and Christmas presents. Allowance money was saved strategically with one objective in mind. Friends were trading partners. The obsession was real.

I found a blog published in 2015 by the folks over at Skyword that resonated with me. Sports cards may have laid part of the foundation for my love of marketing.

Cards were content. On the front was one of the keynote photos from their season. On the back, was a biography, statistics and more. I would memorize HR totals and receiving yard totals. I can name the colleges of thousands of NFL players.

In the earliest days, they were a nascent form of true content marketing, developing engaging content to tell their story.

Baseball and football undoubtedly gained hundreds of thousands of young fans through allegiances held by that one “special” rookie card. You know, the one that the Beckett Card Price Guide listed at a $45.00 value and you put in your hard cover.

Content marketing is really about creating content—any content—that your customers want to consume. It can be done with written word (blogs & articles), videos, pictures (photos & design), or audio (podcasts).

Create content, and develop a legion of diehard fans for your brand.

My stacks and stacks of cards sitting in my closet are a testimony.


Andrea

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PR Newswire - Mattel Taps Into 90’s Nostalgia with Relaunch of Polly

Since we’re talking old toys, I’ll follow suit and take on Polly Pocket dolls.

These miniscule plastic dolls (can you say choking hazard?) were all the rage in the 1990’s–an era I can just barely claim to remember, though 90’s nostalgia is resurging in a major way among millenials.

However, I was lucky enough to have an older sister with a behemoth collection of Pollys, all of which ended up in my possession once she became “too cool.”

Where are they now, you ask? I haven’t the faintest clue–which is unfortunate considering the latest eBay boom.

While I won’t be piling away extra cash for my vintage Pollys, Mattel has announced a relaunch of the tiny dolls and their compact playsets, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued.

There’s nothing especially practical or appealing about the dolls. They really are miniature–about the size of your fingernail–which, in my opinion, makes them not only dangerous, but annoying.

The appeal here is purely nostalgic, and Mattel knows it.

An article from gNovis, Georgetown University's journal of communication, culture, and technology put it best:

"From a marketing perspective, it’s significantly easier to bring back an old-school logo than it is to deliver new content. Brands from all industries are trialing with positive cultural memories because seeing a product in the condition we experienced as children triggers an emotional attachment, and therefore a higher possibility that we will act upon a purchase."

The content and the product already exist. Mattel simply has to relaunch.