Nostalgia for early experience as a determinant of consumer preferences



Studies of music, motion pictures, movie stars, and fashion products have shown that styles popular during a consumer's youth can influence the consumer's lifelong preferences. The authors present an integrative model of this phenomenon and propose that these nostalgic effects are not limited to products that relate to the arts and entertainment or are primarily aesthetic. As an illustrative example, the authors investigate the effects of early experience on consumer preferences for automobile styles. Consistent with expectations, they find that men do but women do not show evidence of nostalgic attachment to the styles experienced in their youth—that is, their preferences peaked for products that were popular when they were young. Also, as expected, individual differences in the psychographic variable of nostalgia proneness play a role in moderating these effects. These findings expand the understanding of the generality, the boundaries, and the managerial relevance of the age-related peak-preference phenomenon. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.