Retrograde: Rewind to the present

This is the 3rd in a six-part series on Lodestar UM’s study Wave X Remix Culture that analyses the four most influential shifts shaping the modern consumer - Resist, Retrograde, Reglocalise & Recreate

e4m by Shrikant Shenoy
Updated: Jan 6, 2020 8:35 AM
Wave X Remix Culture

This is the third in our six-part series on Lodestar UM’s study Wave X Remix Culture that analyses the four most influential shifts shaping the modern consumer - Resist, Retrograde, Reglocalise and Recreate. Wave X explains how these shifts also served as pillars of a framework that enabled marketers to understand cultural trends and identify the territories brands should play in, audiences to target and media platforms they interact with. As the 21st century enters the 20s, brands are often advised to look at future trends and predictions. However, consumers also return to decades gone by to relive memories. What should brands do in a world where the past often co-exists with the future?

Wave X takes a close look at the Retrograde pillar, exploring the shift towards authenticity and nostalgia and the role of digital in bringing past decades of music, art and culture within easy reach of the current generation.

Among the many findings, a surprise - 16 to 34-year olds are time travellers Every generation has lived through a decade or two with defining moments that had a lasting influence. The last decade, for instance, was a turning point for all generations of Indians, a time when India started emerging as a global player, internet and smartphone penetration shot up and a world of content became instantly accessible to 560m internet users. For 16 to 34-year olds, the last decade should have been the best time of all. However, Wave X reveals however that they prefer to be time travellers, using digital to access content both past and present. There’s no single decade that stands out as massively influential with this cohort compared to older generations. Youth are drawing up multiple decades to help shape who they are; even influenced by periods of time before they were born.

Content of all kinds from previous decades is available on platforms including Spotify, Netflix, YouTube and more. A teenager in the 80s had to invest in a cassette album to listen to Prince. However, teens today have instant digital access to music, movies and more from every decade.

How can brands lean into the Retrograde shift? Some recommendations -

Target your best Retro decade

Wave X identifies the decade that had the highest influence on your target audience, based on the product category.

Entertainers like Netflix keep hunting the 80s and 90s for potential genres to resurrect. Sitcoms like Friends continue to draw viewers. However, Wave X data shows that the potential appeal of these decades is not limited only to TV shows but also extends to categories like auto.

Automaker Mahindra & Mahindra tapped into this appeal with the upcoming launch of Yezdi motorcycles. The launch announcement led to exciting conversations among Gen Y bikers on social media. Banking on the memories of the 80s and 90s, the Yezdis of India project aims to revive the memories of a legendary motorcycle.

Lead the quest for heritage

Consumers are leaning on their cultural heritage to define their authentic selves. At least 67% of Indians are trying to rediscover their roots and cultural heritage through travel/music/art/movies, practicing their culture and traditions and identifying themselves based on these learnings.

Brands that associate themselves with this quest by becoming a part of content that defines origin can expect a positive impact on imagery and other metrics.

Digital brands have led the way. Amazon partnered with Saregama to stream the label’s catalog of 117,000 tracks including some dating back to the era of India’s first talkie film Raja Harishchandra, on Amazon Prime Music. A music property Carvaan Lounge reinvented the golden age of Indian music in a new modern sound, with evergreen Hindi film music classics rearranged and rendered by contemporary musicians and singers like Neeti Mohan and Shaan.

Google’s digital film ‘The Hero – A Bollywood Story’ brought to life how Google Search gave cinema enthusiasts an easy way to relive iconic movie scenes, stars, music, dialogues and actors.

Bridging the generation gap, Wave X takes into account the role of consumers as parents, decision-makers and conduits of culture for their kids. Parents are keen to travel back in time and bring back memories to share with their kids. The study recognises that parents want their kids to be reintroduced to products that evoke feelings of familiarity, nostalgia and the simpler world of the past. They cheer for the culture of the ’80s and ’90s that travels through time and remixes itself to be relevant to their kids.

Events that celebrate pop culture like Comic-Con recognise the demand to transmit some Gen Y icons to the current generation. 90s superhero Shaktimaan was relaunched in a 3D animated version at the last edition in Mumbai.

Our next article Recreate: The building blocks of identity will explore how consumers now have the power to create opportunities and lifestyles by choosing elements of culture and tradition that they like and refashioning them the way they want them to be. Brands that embrace this multifaceted approach will reap more bonding opportunities.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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