It seems the rapid advancement of technology is having an adverse impact on consumers as retro gadgets become increasingly popular.
While many areas of life are cyclical, technology is expected to move forwards building on progress made prior. However, recent patterns in consumer behaviour suggest a change in the tide.
Nokia have resurrected the 3310, vinyl has become the fastest growing music format, and Kodak has promised to bring back Ektachrome film.
More than 3.2 million vinyl records were sold throughout the UK in 2016, marking the highest total in 25 years. Although vinyl only accounts for 2.6% of overall music market, last year saw a 53% increase in sales on 2015.
Vanessa Higgins of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) Council explains the rise in popularity of vinyl:
‘It’s twofold in that older people are going back to vinyl but I also think the younger generation are discovering it in a way they weren’t before.
‘People think millennials just stream and are just digital but actually I think we are going to see increasingly over this coming year that young people still want something tangible and real and that’s where vinyl is taking on the role that the CD used to have.’
Back. Back again.
Similarly, cassettes are back with a vengeance. Tape releases from artists including Eminem and Blink 182 have seen many juicing up their boomboxes and enjoying a 90s experience.
The resurgence of vinyl and cassettes are indicative of a large percentage of music lovers dissatisfied with digital and longing for a physical connection with the sounds they enjoy.
Another industry experiencing the revival of retro products is the world of photography. For example, in January Kodak revealed that Ektachrome film will be back in stores by the end the year.
In their announcement, Kodak stated:
“Sales of professional photographic films have been steadily rising over the last few years, with professionals and enthusiasts rediscovering the artistic control offered by manual processes and the creative satisfaction of a physical end product.’
Polaroid has experienced a similar surge in popularity with their Polaroid 600 Camera flying off the shelves. The excitement of waiting for colourful images to crystalize may beat the thrill of the latest Snapchat filter.
Consumer behaviour in photography is illustrative of a growing desire to get your hands on the product to maximise enjoyment.
It’s only a game
Oldschool music or photography formats aren’t the only nostalgic crazes. Also, there has been a huge increase in demand for retro games consoles.
Nintendo are struggling to keep up with demand for their NES and relevant cartridges. The 80s gaming machine was one of their most successful games consoles. It established Nintendo as one of the biggest brands in the gaming world.
Upon relaunching, Reggie Fils-Aime of Nintendo stated:
‘[We] wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place.’
With sales through the roof, it’s fair to conclude that the brand managed to fulfil their mission.
Whether listening to music, capturing photographic memories, or nostalgically revisiting games, the resurgence of retro gadgets is symptomatic of a population searching for synesthetic experiences in an increasingly digital world.