To my son, it was just fun and games. But to me and my coworkers, it was validation of an excitingLive Well™ insight and marketing opportunity we recently uncovered.
I was Face Timing with my son at college, and I noticed that he was distracted by something on his computer screen (not entirely unusual!). He and his entire college baseball team were playing Fortnite, a free-to-play online multiplayer shooting game that appealed to every competitive, self-respecting teenage boy when it was launched in 2017.
My son told me that the company had just re-introduced the original Fortnite map, Fortnite Season OG, and that 44 million people had signed on. I talked to a coworker in a different part of the country, and she said that her boys were also part of the Fortnite resurgence.
They aren’t the only ones. In fact, there has been a surge of returning players, predominantly males aged 14-25. This isn’t simply a matter of convenience or renewed interest in the game. It’s a testament to the power of nostalgia, a force that taps into something deep within us.
Nostalgia isn’t just remembering the past. It’s about re-experiencing the emotions, connections, and sense of belonging that we felt during a specific time in our lives.
For many young people (my son included), Fortnite’s original map represents a period of carefree adolescence, a time spent bonding with friends over online battles. The virtual battlefield was a playground where millions of young people shared countless laughs, frustrations, and triumphs. These experiences forged a sense of community and a feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves.
By revisiting this familiar landscape, they are reconnecting with those positive emotions and enjoying a welcome escape from the pressures and anxieties of young adulthood. They are also reconnecting with friends and re-living the joy of belonging to a group.
Fortnite's success with nostalgia marketing offers valuable insights for other brands. It reminds us that the human desire for connection and belonging is a powerful motivator. By tapping into our shared memories and experiences, brands can build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their consumers. This goes beyond transactional marketing; it's about creating a sense of community and belonging that resonates with people on an emotional level.
However, it's important to use nostalgia responsibly. Simply rehashing the past can feel uninspired and exploitative. The key is to strike a balance between honoring the past and innovating for the future. For example, Fortnite's re-release adds new features and gameplay tweaks, ensuring that the experience feels fresh while retaining the familiar charm of the original.
The resurgence of Fortnite's original map demonstrates the potent force of nostalgia. By reconnecting with positive memories and shared experiences, brands can build stronger emotional bonds with their consumers.
As we move forward, it's crucial to leverage nostalgia in a meaningful way, creating Live Well experiences that resonate with our desire for connection and belonging, while still looking towards the future.