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In this article, the authors introduce the concept that people's earliest and defining product memories can be used as a projective tool to help managers more fully understand consumers' relationships to their products. The authors use a study on three generations of automobile consumers to illustrate how these memories symbolize the consumer-brand relationship and how they can be used to gain insights into brand meaning. The findings indicate that people's earliest and defining experiences have an important influence on current and future preferences in predictable ways across the consumer life cycle. These memory experiences are symbolic to the consumer and represent a new lens for viewing brand meaning, which complements the toolbox of extant research methods. The authors provide details about this technique for managers who are searching for methods that recognize that consumers coproduce brand meanings.


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