From Heineken’s Dumb Phone to T-Pain, ’00s Make a Comeback

Zillennials, 2000s

From the rise of social networking to a more fractured media landscape to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into daily life, the world looks very different now than it did in the ’00s, and brands are seizing on the opportunity to harken back to a simpler (and more low-rise-jeans-filled) time.

Most of us don’t turn to beer brands to provide us with our cellphones, but Heineken announced Wednesday (April 17) a collaboration with streetwear marketplace Bodega to launch The Boring Phone, a non-internet-connected flip phone. Following a limited giveaway of this device, the brand is launching an app to “turn smartphones boring” in June.

“We could all do with a break from the constant distractions of smart tech; something our research has shown is even more important to our Gen Z and Millennial consumers,” Nabil Nasser, global head of Heineken, said in a statement. “When we spoke to them about their smartphone usage, we quickly realized that many feel they are habitually distracted when socializing by their device but also admit they didn’t want to go completely phone-free.”

To tie it back to the brand’s beverages, Nasser said that the company’s goal is to “foster moments of genuine connection and help people experience the joy of true togetherness,” ideally “over a beer.”

The pre-smart-phone-era nostalgia can be seen in fashion, too. Earlier this month, W Magazine reported on Blackpink star Lisa’s Louis Vuitton x Stephen Sprouse bag from the early 2000s, suggesting that high fashion may be heading this direction as well.

Indeed, the shift is taking over pop culture, with HotNewHipHop sharing Monday (April 15) that Coachella’s Revolve Fest was a throwback to the aughts, full of nostalgic classics — Ying Yang Twins, Sean Paul, T-Pain and Ludacris. 

In further nostalgia news, the split-flap board is back. On Wednesday, NBC’s Today highlighted Oat Foundry, a company that rents out this old-style signage for brands looking to give that analog feeling — a product that has been used by brands ranging from Carnival Cruise Line to Glossier.

Moves to harken back to the ’00s appeal to the childhood memories of a key demographic, the Zillennial — the cohort of the 30 million United States consumers born between 1990 and 2000. Many of these consumers have cash to burn.

According to PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: Meet the Zillennials,” 22% of zillennials do not living paycheck-to-paycheck, compared to 17% of both millennials and bridge millennials. This may be due to 54% of zillennials working full time while having fewer expenses than their older peers. Some of this financial stability may come from the money they save living with others: 58% live with a romantic partner, 34% live with their parents or siblings and 13% live with either friends or other housemates. 

This extra income from living with others and having fewer expenses may afford zillennials a bit more financial freedom to shop, and indeed, many of their shopping habits recall a less digitally connected time, as 92% of zillennials prefer to shop in-store despite being digital natives.

So OMG, it seems like the aughts’ comeback is going GR8, from dumb phones to party jams, and with that, the PYMNTS weekender will TTYL.