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Macy's banks on the good old days

Still shot from a Macy's ad celebrating 150 years of the store's heritage.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade always conjures up memories. Sitting on the couch in your pajamas, smelling mom's cooking in the kitchen. And that's just the kind of thing Macy's wants this year, when nostalgia might be the only effective sales pitch. Andrea Gardner explains.


Andrea Gardner: It's simple: When you're worried about money, you don't shop. So retailers are creating ads to wipe away your worry and make you smile again.

Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says one of the most effective tactics is a dose of the good old days.

Kit Yarrow: For some reason, nostalgic memories always seem to be positive. Our brain doesn't seem to be that specific about details. It just transmits these kind of warm and glowy feelings.

Macy's is using nostalgia this year with huge newspaper ads that reprint the famous "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa" letter. Macy's is also running this commercial, highlighting its place in American culture through the decades.

Macy's Commercial: This is Macy's. Yes, I found a lot of cute things at Macy's . . .

Macy's touts its 150 year anniversary in the ads, and Yarrow says, that's smart. Consumers are finding security in heritage brands that have weathered tough economic times before.

In Los Angeles, I'm Andrea Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Andrea Gardner is a journalism professor and writer in Pasadena, Calif.
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