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This is the first of a three part interview with Catherine Roe, head of CPG for Google, leading up to the IIR Audience Measurement Event in Chicago May 21-23 where Catherine and I will both be speaking. Through special arrangement, I can offer my readers a 20% discount to this event.  Just use the code AM12JR

Joel:  Catherine, tell us a little bit about your role at Google, what you do, and your responsibilities.

Catherine: I head up CPG. What that really means is that at Google we are verticalized according to certain sectors. …we look to the experts in a particular field to be able to provide that consultative approach to our advertisers as they continue to develop their marketing…especially as consumers are changing.

Joel: I noticed that that your talk at the upcoming IIR Audience Measurement Event is entitled: “Engaging Your Target Audience throughout the Path to Purchase.” … Can you define to the audience what you mean by “path to purchase” and bring the concept to life?

Catherine: what’s really changed and the reason for this “path to purchase” coming to light is there are so many new stimulations that interrupt today’s consumer before she ever makes a purchase decision, whether that be a purchase decision online or a purchase decision as to even which grocery store she’s going to go to.

The key piece here is that consumer habits have changed so much. We have so much access to new information because of the Web, because of our social mediums that we interact with on a daily basis. Our purchase decisions really are affected by a number of different stimuli and different mediums and it really has changed people’s approach to what they buy. So, a great deal of research is done ahead of time and as consumers have become more sophisticated in this research, it’s translated from big ticket items (such as a computer or a car or a cell phone or even a vacuum) all the way down to everyday products like a $3 bottle of shampoo. “Will it make my hair frizzy?” “How will it affect humidity since I’m going on a trip down to Mexico?”

So, those types of decisions are now being researched ahead of time whereas even as much as 3 or 4 years ago, those types of decisions were made right at store level. Everything that mattered was on the packaging and on the product right there. So, when we talk about the path to purchase, we really talk about all those “moments that matter” as we call them.

Joel: Since the great majority of CPG purchasing occurs in-store, how important is digital in the path to purchase?

Catherine: we know that searches on related to recipes are up 38% in 2011 over 2010. And it’s a huge number. It’s 7.8 billion recipe-related searches on

Joel: Did you say: “billion” with a “b”?

Catherine: Yes. Just to give you a perspective, there are more searches around food and recipes than there is travel, beauty, and luxury. It is absolutely huge. To put it in perspective, the iPad or her computer or her phone has replaced her cookbook. So, she’s doing that research ahead of time on Google and then going to either a recipe site or a food site or whatever it might be to get the tips, to get the health information, to get the ingredients to get everything she needs. in a nutshell we know that the recipe searches and we know that searches are only going up.

Joel: What is the zero moment of truth or Z-MOT that Google has discovered?

Catherine: It is this activity that is done after there is a stimulus, whether it be a TV commercial or some type of offline media. In between that stimulus and in between the store shelf there’s this pre-research that she’s doing and that’s what we call the “zero moment of truth” because it happens before she gets to the shelf and even before she gets to the actual grocery store which is the first moment of truth. And then lastly, what we call the second moment of truth (which is when you got that product home) is “Did it meet your expectations?” …the feedback that we get from consumers is that zero moment is just as important as the other two moments within that cycle.

Next up, part two: On a scale of 0 to 10, how does Google rate CPG marketers and retailers in terms of digital sophistication?

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4 Responses to “My interview with Google: for CPG how important is digital in the path to purchase”

  1. […] My interview with Google: for CPG how important is digital in the path to purchase […]

  2. […] blog is co-posted with the Joel Rubenson on Market Research Blog.  Rubenson is a partner for The Audience Measurement Event taking place this May 21-23, 2012, in […]

  3. I may have contributed 1 billion of those recipe searches myself. Looking forward to the next installments of this interview!

  4. […] blog is co-posted with the Joel Rubenson on Market Research Blog.  Rubenson is a partner for The Audience Measurement Event taking place this May 21-23, 2012, in […]