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Zero Moments of Truth

By February 3, 2011

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As if retailers don't already have enough on their plate, now they have to contend with "the rise of the informed shopper" in an "age of informational retailing" and "total consumer power."  And they better be quick, because there's only a zero moment of truth before that sale is lost. What's a retailer (in this case, of consumer packaged goods -- CPG for short) to do?

The term "First Moment of Truth" (FMOT) has been used by Proctor & Gamble to describe the interaction between a shopper and a product in a store. This has long been considered to be the most important opportunity for a brand, based on the idea that shoppers make up their minds about a product in the first few seconds after they encounter the product in a store.

Fast forward a few years and we have what Google calls the "Zero Moment of Truth" (ZMOT), where interactions with a brand take place without the consumer ever having to step foot in a store.

A 2010 survey conducted by comScore reveals that 59% of consumers gather information online before making a purchase. According to another study, 80 to more than 90% of shoppers research products online before making an offline purchase. Shoppers who conduct preliminary research online end up spending 20 percent more than those who do not.

"ZMOT has turned conventional brand wisdom on its head," Jenny Liu writes in Google's CPG Blog. "Marketers need to ensure that a consumer has a consistent and positive experience -- from the Zero Moment of Truth to the point of purchase and beyond -- by getting in front of a consumer with the right brand message early in the process of discovery, and staying there along the way."

According to a new industry position paper, Digital Readiness for CPG Retailers, advertising and marketing campaigns are no longer enough to influence shoppers. The message they're sending out is this:  "Go digital or get left behind."

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