Daily Insights

Oldies But Goodies: What the Rewatch Trend Means for Marketing

By: Iconoculture Research Team | Nov 21, 2019

Every set-piece TV scene at the office water cooler shows the protagonists talking about a hot new show or blockbuster movie. In real life, however, the conversation is now likely to center on decades-old episodes of Seinfeld or Friends. 80% of respondents to the Gartner Consumer Behaviors and Attitudes Survey, 2019 say they regularly rewatch television shows or movies, and 20% do so daily.

Rewatching behavior falls into two categories: background and critical. “Background” watchers want something to do while completing other tasks, or to relax with content that doesn’t require much attention. Representing 70% of rewatchers, they are motivated by convenience, ambience and nostalgia.

Critical rewatchers, in contrast, want to revisit experiences and impressions from the past. Some rewatch content that made a positive impression on their younger selves; other rewatch so they can critique cultural attitudes expressed in popular media from the past. Though they represent just 30% of rewatchers, critical rewatchers tend to be young and vocal about their opinions on social media.

For marketers, the rewatching trend suggests new angles of engagement with consumers. According to the Gartner Consumer Values and Lifestyle Survey, rewatchers value relaxation and enjoyment more than the average consumer. Since 2016 they have also been placing progressively less emphasis on curiosity, discovery and adventure, consistent with overall consumer trends. Rewatching is one way these consumers are embracing the familiar and comfortable over the new and complicated.

Brands can take advantage of the trend with campaigns that emphasize stability and predictability—as Uber has with its “Predictably Premium” campaign that promotes drivers in traditional black sedan cars, with guarantees they will show up at the right time and provide a consistent experience. Nostalgia may also play well for brands that reference characters or shows from the past, like the 2019 Superbowl commercial from beverage brand Stella Artois featuring “the Dude” from Big Lebowski having a beer with Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.