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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.  True that.

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.  Again, true.

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 3 main sources:

  1. Push advertising on TV and digital display that creates desire and curiosity
  2. Word of mouth and conspicuous consumption (those white earbuds on the iPhone had tremendous impact on creating societal acceptance)
  3. 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 plus) 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% 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?

So for moments of truth marketing, we need to keep a few pieces of advice in mind:

  1. There is something before the zero moment of truth; minus one is the point at which desire and curiosity lead to the desire for search and seeking activity.  What is your minus one strategy?  Is it TV-based, social-based, store-based or something else?
  2. A progressive marketer will find ways to enable people to instantly pass into the zero moment by fully leveraging digital, social, mobile wherever that person might be when minus one hits.
  3. The second moment of truth is not just based on product use; it is based on experience with the brand which includes continuing to search and talk about it in social media.  The McKinsey consumer decision journey work proves this.  Hence, second moment and zero moment loop around and reconnect.

There are powerful concepts in moments of truth marketing, but don’t get too literal. The moments are not in a fixed sequence mapped to time and place even though they are numbered.  Mobile in particular, will bust up any thoughts of sequence.

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6 Responses to “What is missing from moments of truth marketing”

  1. Keith Scovell

    Joel – Really like your blogs and point of view! Brand manufacturers have made some good progress on moving to store/shelf level – now the shopper is in control! It offers the manufacturer and retailer a real opportunity to connect together to make the shopper experience easier and message clearer. See where search is moving to search and act through improved search engines – looks like we are moving to shopper personalization in certain areas – beyond just first moment of truth at shelf – thoughts? thx!

  2. Matt

    Looks like the Moment of Truth chain is growing… David Berkowitz just posted this:

  3. Good job, Joel. Now I’m wondering, how many bon MOTs can one industry handle? ZMOT; FMOT; SMOT; your -1MOT; Berkowitz’s IMOT…

    I think maybe we are now extending this Shopper Marketing discussion from the path-to-purchase to the path-to-loyalty. A good thing, really, since the linkages are powerful and real.

    Also your point about the non-linear nature of the Moments of Truth is worthy of frequent repetition. Product experience is certainly a web of moments, not a fixed linear sequence. Call it WOT (Web of Truth)?

  4. Tim Wingrove

    Thanks, Joel, for another insightful piece of perspective. What I find missing in much of the MOT discussion is the distrinction that needs to be made between those types of product purchases that by virtue of their category provoke more involvement in the purchase decision (eg, higher end products and services) vs. those that are considerably more prosaic and more often driven by routine behaviour. The latter defines the vast majority of products in the grocery and drug channels. I doubt that too many consumers resort very often to search to help them decide on their detergent or soup choices. The MOT for these purchases is directed at the decision (often not very salient): “do I buy what I almost always buy or is there something here that causes me to think gain?”

  5. Joel:

    Nice post – I think you hit on a really interesting point – and that is the way the internet has enabled immediate gratification. The moment of curiosity + desire (-1) followed up by the ZMOT is exactly what the P&G’s of the world need to sell into.

    So as a marketer you need to trigger the -1, be found on the ZMOT and then present your product at the FMOT.

    That is a BIG challenge.


    • wonderful comments everyone. Tom, you picked up on something that I think is big: the internet makes traditional media much more effective because of the immediate ability to act on something interesting. Tim, you are right that we need to keep an open mind about the degree to which search and information seeking can vary across product types and shopping needs. Keith, I think that there is a frienemy relationship between manufacturers and retailers and that extends to mobile. It can drive more sales at point of purchase but it also allows manufacturers to break up the control of the shopping environment that retailers use to negotiating advantage