Childhood memories are often one scroll away on e-commerce app

Childhood memories are often one scroll away on e-commerce app

Miranda Shek
Miranda Shek
International Corporate Affairs
April 8, 2020

“Luxury you can afford every day”.

Remember that slogan? It was a simple ad campaign for the Imperial Leather soap brand, a popular name in most households in the 1980s, owned by UK-based PZ Cussons. It was my father’s choice for years. As a child, I had always wanted to use the ivory soap bar, attracted by both its fragrance and the colorful signature packaging. But sadly, I never got to use it and shower like a royal because my mother conveniently labeled it an “adult soap”. Sigh.

The iconic Imperial Leather TV Commercial.

Then there were these tiny biscuits with colorful crowns. I used to call them “belly button biscuits” as a child. Remember those? The real name for them is Iced Gems, by the way. They were very special — my parents reserved them as rewards to be given with my evening snacks whenever I got good grades at school. I remember I’d always munch on the biscuits first and devour the colorful icing later, licking them ravenously while watching my favorite Ducktales cartoon. Those were the days.

Iced gems.


For years I had forgotten about such products, thanks to the passing of time and the influx of new brands that dominated supermarkets and ad space on TV and magazines, banishing my childhood memories to the hidden shelves of yesteryears.

Until one day they found their way into my Pinduoduo app.

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Cussons Imperial Leather soap — 4 bars for 10.5 Yuan.

Pinduoduo (PDD) is a Chinese e-commerce platform designed to look like a virtual bazaar. Unlike the conventional search model, this app is customized to the user who can scroll through personalized recommendations, mimicking the fun of discovering new things at a shopping mall.

Nevertheless, I didn’t expect this. I have been pleasantly surprised at unexpected glimpses of products that are taking me down memory lane.

The personalized recommendations are based on algorithms drawing upon users and their friends’ past viewing patterns and purchases. Unlike search rankings on conventional e-commerce platforms, the recommendation feed on Pinduoduo is less manipulated by marketing dollars spent by brands, I am told.

It’s like the app has done a lot of homework and targets specific items for specific users, allowing them to be surprised by rare gems. And there’s nothing more precious than a childhood memory, one that makes you smile with nostalgia.

Excited about the Imperial Leather soaps, I bought four and shipped two to my Dad, expecting a similar nostalgic hoorah from him. Instead, he complained how smelly it was and not as organic as it used to be. Parents — they can be so unpredictable as they age!

“Why did I use it for 10 years?” he exclaimed. Well, unlike him, I was a happy camper who finally got to soak in my childhood fragrance to my heart’s content.