BrainTrust Query: What is Missing from Moments of Truth Marketing

Discussion
Aug 01, 2011
Joel Rubinson

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from the Joel Rubinson on Marketing Research blog.

First, Procter started talking about the first moment of truth (FMOT). This is when a shopper first encounters a product in the store. (The second moment of truth relates to use). This was great for the shopper marketing folks as it clearly signaled that brand awareness, preference, and purchase can be created spontaneously in seconds at the shelf.

Now, since 2010, Google has started a campaign around ZMOT, the zero moment of truth. This recognizes that many shoppers actually start their shopping online via a search.

However, let me introduce “minus one” in path to purchase, because there is something that comes before search.

Most of search that refers traffic to a given site is based on typing in a trademark name, not a generic phrase like, “get the smell out of my carpet.” So, how did someone get to know about that trademark that they thought to search for? I think there are three main sources: 


  • Push advertising on TV and digital display that creates desire and curiosity;
  • Word of mouth and conspicuous consumption (those white earbuds on the iPhone had tremendous impact on creating societal acceptance);
  • Visibility at retail. Yes, the first moment of truth can come BEFORE the zero moment of truth. In a way, packaging was the zero moment as it was the searchable content before mobile devices brought the internet into the store. Well, you knew linear marketing was dead, right?

So, I’d say that the moment of curiosity and desire that creates interest in learning more is the minus one moment of truth. Minus one can be triggered anywhere; in the living room while watching TV, on the train, in the store, or in Facebook and Twitter (and now Google+) conversation.

The mating dance between minus one and zero has always existed. What I think happens is that unless you can quickly act on your desire, it dissipates. Before internet search, when minus one occurred you needed to go to the store, or call a friend, or buy a magazine. I have to believe that 90 percent or more of desire was squandered in the pre-digital age. Now, consumers can instantly search for something they are curious about — from their computers at home or work, or mobile devices right in the store, or from 35,000 feet. So what search does is it lets us act on our curiosity before it dissipates, which is powerful for marketers.

Some marketers are ahead of the curve at turning minus one into zero anywhere and anytime but this is a big part of digital strategy — turning curiosity at minus one into a zero moment activity before it dissipates. This should be a priority for a marketer. How would you do this at shelf, online, in a TV commercial, outdoors?

What do you think of the challenges of reaching consumers at the ’minus one’ and ’zero’ moments of truth? How are digital search capabilities and increasing use of mobile technologies transforming the conversation between marketers and consumers?

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22 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: What is Missing from Moments of Truth Marketing"


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Peter Fader
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

All this MOT nonsense is just that (nonsense). It’s ironic that retailers are trying to zoom in on a specific MOT, while at the same time digital media researchers are developing comprehensive attribution models to thoughtfully spread the credit around to multiple touchpoints.

Let’s face it: if there really is a “moment of truth” at all, it is going to vary wildly across people and shopping contexts. Why try to put more attention on any one of these moments instead of trying to embrace (and sort out the incremental impact of) each and every one of them?

Dave Wendland
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

ZMOT? MOT? MOT -1?

How does a marketer reach consumers before, during, and while making decisions? The real answer may be in Rick Moss’ novel, Ebocloud. (It’s an interesting fictional look at the next phase of social networking and well worth the read!)

But, back to reality. There is no single moment-of-truth but rather a highly-complex integration of many types of messaging (online, in-store, networking, advertising, and more). I believe the key is to produce the best possible product, support it every way feasible, and delight consumers when they purchase it. That’s the “true moment of truth” … I’ll call it the TMOT.

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

What’s missing from “moments of truth” and “minus one” marketing are factors that influence share of mind.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I’m all for adapting to technology. But there are some processes where the basic steps remain the same and the transportation (argh, now I’m doing it) changes.

Marketing used to be about building awareness, conveying a message, imagery and ultimately persuading the consumer. I don’t think these necessary ingredients have changed … it’s the transportation.

Creating awareness has expanded beyond advertising to embrace searches. Word of mouth has been there forever (before the telephone); it now includes Facebook, etc. Packaging has always been a strong communication factor and it closes the deal at the point of sale (just read some of my articles and speeches from the last 30 plus years). And using the product has always been a significant variable for satisfaction, repeat usage and loyalty.

Phrases (remember USP = Unique Selling Proposition) are devices that differentiate one marketing/advertising agency from another until all use the same phrase. FMOT and ZMOT are cases in point. Bottom line, we need to focus on the basic marketing and communication process and utilize all the transportation modes available.

Dan Frechtling
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Winning any moment of truth (first, second, zero, minus 1) requires stimulating both desire to act and desire to act NOW.

The former is a challenge in itself as brands compete to get in the consideration set. Joel outlines 3 main sources.

But the latter is a bigger challenge. Digital marketing — particularly search, mobile, and social — transform the conversation between marketers and consumers when they compel consumers to act now.

The above piece discusses how digital enables shoppers act on desire. Yet it’s an equally powerful way to generate desire. Consider what’s happening with coupons, including Groupon’s partnerships with grocers, P&G’s exclusive offers on Facebook, and Coupons.com’s raising $200M to add mobile and social.

Digital creates new MOTivations to act now. Today’s single purchase coupons take effect at ZMOT, while new multi-purchase loyalty programs are driving post-buy SMOT.

David Zahn
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I would add that not all “shopping” is the same. One does not (hypothetically) shop for wine in the same way that one does for detergent. One’s willingness and receptivity to information is likely to be different based on the category, the shopper and the scenario.

I may purchase a “grab and go” detergent for everyday laundering — but if I have a wine spill on a shirt or a tomato sauce spill on pants, I may suddenly pay closer attention to product differences, seek the store’s help in directing me to the “right” product, or be more inclined to interact differently with the shelved products (even do research ahead of time). Similarly, I may prefer to think long and hard about what wine to purchase for a party where I wish to impress but, for my own use, I may be quite happy to shop for my tried-and-true favorites.

Each shopping occasion is approached differently. To put it succinctly — products are mass-produced; shopping occasions are very customized.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

There is one moment of truth; when the customer purchases the product. There are many moments of opportunity; the period between the introduction to the product and when the customer chooses to purchase or not purchase the item.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

“Moments of Truth”? Someone is taking what they do too seriously. The brand guys ought to wake up to what is really happening to brands and brand names. A recent survey of a Boomers list of top brands found the familiar and traditional consumer products in the top 10. The same survey of Millennials found NONE. To Millennials, Google is more important than Crest; Amazon is more important than Cheerios; YouTube rather than Campbell’s.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Sometimes I think we are taking things too far in our attempt to reach in the consumers wallet. This might be one of those times.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I’think we are thinking beyond the realm of normal here. The moment of truth is whether the display along with a really great price will sell, and ZMOT or IMOT is really deep thinking. Stack it high, price it low and watch it go is my simpleton way of moving product, and if it is a demand product, it will sell…

I think I need to re-think I think??

malcolm wicks
Guest
malcolm wicks
9 years 9 months ago

In spite of all our clever marketing, consumers can make their buying decision based on no logical reasoning at all. They can also change their mind for no obvious reason. We just don’t know how many decisions fall into this category.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
9 years 9 months ago

It seems to me that what we’re doing here is building a conceptual model around brand building, driven by customer awareness. All of this naval-gazing has been driven by trying to understand the changes technology has brought to customer awareness, intent and action. Alright…

Where this moves beyond mind games is if the conceptual models can be empirically tested and data generated so that all of this can be quantified. Until then, it’s still mind games, though not necessarily without value.

I always keep in mind that retailing is part art, part craft, and part science. There’s been an enormous amount of brain cells expended trying to turn the art and craft into science, and not without some success. But successful retailing always has and always will require gifted art and inspired craft to achieve the greatest success.

Just ask Steve Jobs.

Frank Beurskens
Guest
9 years 9 months ago
The beauty of search is transparency. This discussion prompted a look at our interactive recipe network’s data to see what shoppers are really searching for both in-store and on-line at retailers’ web sites. The results: Among the top 100 keywords typed in both online and via our customers’ in-store interactive display network, NOT ONCE did a brand name appear. Based on this data set of 250,000 keywords typed in, shoppers search first for ideas, need states and meal planning solutions. Minus one time appears to be about planning, but rather than brand choice, as this article suggests, it may be more about the solving the problem first. Our data clearly suggests the shopper is most concerned with the problem state first. The ideal time to present the brand story appears to be associated with the solution shoppers are searching for, in this case, as a branded ingredient in a recipe that solves a meal planning problem. Solve the problem first, then associate the brand? The first moment of truth is when the problem first arises… Read more »
James Tenser
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Many moments of influence (WOM, search, “likes”, ads, digital media, etc.) add up to a Web of Truths (WOT). Shopper marketers are (and should be) challenged to fit them all within a coherent whole.

Joel’s well-done essay and other ZMOT-inspired posts led me to post an extended Tirade of my own on this topic last week. (See “Web of Truths”…)

The ZMOT expansion is turning out to be rich fodder for the wry essayists among us. A momentous opportunity, one might say — a magic moment — or a momentary lapse of reason.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 9 months ago

Be remarkable and you’ll dominate all potential moments of truth in your category. Easy to say, hard to do, but ultimately the only way to break through the noise.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 9 months ago
Remember the myth of engineering “quality time” with children in time-challenged families? If you couldn’t spend the time you wanted with your kids, you could manufacture “quality” familial experiences — and memories — when you were with them. Of course, this never worked because you can’t manage others’ memories. We remember what we remember, the proof of which is provided in your memory bank and in mine. Our remembered experiences cannot be managed, but instead are exceedingly random and dependent on variables well beyond our numbering or control. Memories come from a body of work, not from engineered instances. And so it is with Moments Of Truth, regardless of where they fall along the spectrum or number line between minus-infinity and plus-infinity. (“Minus one” seems a little meager in that context, doesn’t it?) Is there an actionable pivot point along this experiential highway where marketers can insert a positive, programmed, manufactured memory of their brand or product? If we are indeed swimming in a sea of influences, what are the chances that we’ll bump up… Read more »
Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Didn’t we used to just call this “building awareness”?

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
9 years 9 months ago

I read with interest all of the people who think this discussion is silly. These are the same people who are not sure that people will use their mobile phones to access information while shopping. And the same people who aren’t sure that Word of Mouth will be the leading driver of new product acceptance within the next 24 – 36 months. And the same people who thought Borders might survive.

The world has changed, and unless we are looking at new ways in which to reach the consumer, and at various times in the day, we will all be left behind.

Kudos to those people willing to embrace change.

Jeff Weidauer
Guest
Jeff Weidauer
9 years 9 months ago

Enough of the MOT already. There is still only one MOT, and that’s when the shopper buys the product. Everything else is just a step on the path to purchase, and trying to dissect this process and examine each piece separately is an exercise in futility.

All points along the very convoluted path to purchase are relevant to the shopper, and all are interdependent. Looking at them separately is evocative of the blind men and the elephant — lots of parts, but what do they add up to?

Doug Pruden
Guest
Doug Pruden
9 years 9 months ago
Let’s try to simplify this discussion. Rather than getting all worked up about “moments of truth,” let’s just call them all interactions with the brand. Let’s also realize that: 1) The interactions that are most at play when a consumer buys a product the first time and the interactions that are most important in causing a consumer to be retained and buy the brand numerous times over the months and years ahead can be considerably different. 2) Some interactions that compose the customer experience impact only some individuals; all interactions are not of equal importance, and identifying the few that are the real potential leverage points is critical. Until the consumer has first purchased the product, the mass advertising, promotions, website, word of mouth of others, online reviews, packaging, placement, and price are the more important interactions. After the first purchase interactions such as the tasting, feeling, size, shape, and smell of the product itself, the packaging, ease of storage and use, customer service, store availability, etc. become more important. A change in packaging, an… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Two issues, 1) It may not make sense to cover all shopping missions with this perspective, and 2) We are teetering on analysis paralysis. There are myriad tools available to take the emotion out of marketing and sense and respond to shopper demands. This is definitely the need in this case.

Phil Rubin
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

The challenge of the idea behind “moments of truth” is that all moments when customers interact with your brand are, at least potentially, moments of truth. As a brand you have to consistently deliver value in one or more of its many forms.

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