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The Zero Moment Of Truth

The classic model of the consumer decision-making process used to be very simple:

  • Step 1: Marketers send a stimulus to catch the attention of the customer such as TV commercial or a print ad.
  • Step 2: First Moment of Truth = the customer goes to the store and makes a decision at shelf, based on the stimulus from the ad.
  • Step 3: Second Moment of truth = the customer will use the product at home, and then share the experience with peers.

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In 2001, Google ran a large-scale survey to find out about changes in consumer behaviour, and the impact of the Internet on purchase decisions. This led Google to introduce a new step in the model, called the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) which was triggered by the 84% of consumers that do thorough pre-shopping research, in-store or in-home.

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The ZMOT corresponds to all the online research the consumer does before making a purchase (online comparison, coupons, videos, blogs, forums, social networks etc.). Not only for expensive products like cars, but also for small things such as clothes, make-up, books etc.

Sources used by consumers

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Source: thinkwithgoogle.com

Online testimonies and peer reviews are often more powerful than any paid for advertising, and have a stronger influence when a customer is researching a product or a brand online.

This process is a never-ending virtuous circle (or vicious, depending on the perspective!), as the second moment of truth for one, quickly becomes the zero moment of truth for another. For example, if someone buys a new phone and then shares their experience on social media/ leaves a review, it may then influence the behaviour of other customers who are still in the decision making process.

Here is a nice short video that explains everything in one minute!

From a business perspective, Google recommends easy strategies to implement in order to “win the ZMOT”, such as:

  • “Put someone in charge and find your ZMOT on search engines.”

Companies need to be aware of how people share their experiences and should answer any questions customers have about the brand/ product.

Obviously it’s really hard for a company to control what customers say about their brand, but it’s still crucial to keep track of customer satisfaction in order to make improvements. Managers need to implement strategies on how to show up at the right place, at the right time and with the right content in a digital ecosystem. Engaging with the customer and listening to what they say is key!

  • “Optimise your website for mobile”

The mobile phone is a key platform for pre-purchase research, so brands need to make sure that their website is adapted for mobile and has a good user-friendly interface to ease the browsing process.

The ZMOT is a shift in the consumer decision-making process that marketers need to take into consideration.

Learn more about the Zero Moment of Truth here.