I was recently in Auckland on a research trip and had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends. Martin and Wendy live in jealously inducing Titirangi, nestled in the hills overlooking Auckland harbour. Martin has an obsession for building sculptures from stuff he forages from markets, junk shops, the internet and importantly, friends

He builds sculptures of motorbikes, dogs and people. Not just any stray canine, or randomly inspired human form, but fans of his work who want to commission a sculpture of themselves or a loved one.

To do this he asks the patron for a collection of items that have meaning to them and symbolise an aspect of their life, an event or a relationship. He then uses these components to build a likeness of the person that links them all together.

Families who have lost loved ones have commissioned Martin to build sculptures as a way of remembering and celebrating them. Recipients have often broken into floods of tears when receiving their sculpture – the emotional response is sometimes this strong.

Essentially Martin is collecting memories and reconfiguring them in a way that creates a new powerful aggregated ‘aide memoire’.

So – why does this matter?

A huge amount of our purchase decisions are based on our individual and collective memories – if we have enjoyed an experience we are more than likely to want to repeat it – to tell our friends about it, to share it.

By finding mechanisms to evoke positive congruent memories and linking them to product experience we can elicit enhanced emotional attachment to the experience and ultimately the product – and if we are really good we can provoke new aggregated memories creating a bond between human and product through emotional engagement.

When designing memory inducing or memorable experiences it’s critical to think of the emotional narrative that links the product to the person – once this is established then consider which senses to use to trigger the desired memories.

For example there are multiple behavioural studies that have demonstrated scent is the most visceral emotional trigger to evoke immersive memories and a feeling of going back to the point of creation – tie this in with research that proves the positive effects of congruent scent and the appetite to purchase (1) and you start to have a compelling argument for interlinking past and future memories to your in-store experience.

I will be delving into the role memory has to play through campaign and store experiences at Campaign Underground on September 19th this year – it would be great to see you there!

In the meantime if you want to commission your own ‘aide memoire’ then click here.


1. Herrmann, A. et al. (2013).

The Power of Simplicity: Processing Fluency and the Effects of

Olfactory Cues on Retail Sales.

Journal of Retailing,

Vol. 89, 30-43





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