Google CPG blog - News and Notes from Google"s CPG Vertical

The Zero Moment of Truth

Monday, March 29, 2010

Posted by Jenny Liu, Industry Marketing Manager, CPG

The term "
First Moment of Truth" (commonly called FMOT) was coined by Procter & Gamble in 2005 to define the first interaction between a shopper and a product on a store's shelf. This moment was considered one of the most important marketing opportunities for a brand, as P&G asserted -- and others believed -- that shoppers make up their mind about a product in the first few seconds after they encounter that product for the first time. While this first moment of truth is still important, the rise of full internet adoption and increased search engine use often lead to many brand interactions taking place between a consumer and a brand before that consumer ever sees a product on a shelf. This phenomena is what we are calling the "Zero Moment of Truth", or ZMOT.

We've pulled together some data which supports this new phenomenon.

Data from
IRI's latest Economic Longtitude 2009 study shows that 83% of shoppers make their purchase decisions prior to entering a store:

We've seen an increase in searches, over time, for
Food & Drink, and Beauty & Personal Care:

SKU proliferation in the marketplace and more complex product ingredients, additives and benefits (i.e. anti-wrinkle, probiotics, acai, stevia) have given consumers more reason to turn to search engines to help them in the decision-making process.

Here are some FMOT vs. ZMOT examples that illustrate how ZMOT has turned conventional brand wisdom on its head:

FMOT: A consumer would get to the shelf, pick up a bag of chocolate chip morsels and follow the recipe on the back of the bag, possibly keeping the physical bag to keep a record of the recipe.
ZMOT: Consumers are going to the internet and researching the cookie recipe in advance of buying a bag of morsels from a store shelf.

FMOT: Consumers arrived at a fast food restaurant and scoured the menu on the spot to decide what to order.
ZMOT: Consumers go online to research their food options, perhaps looking for health and value, in advance of getting in line to place an order.

FMOT: Consumers found out about a local brand's promotional event (like free ice cream day) via stumbling upon it, or by seeing a flier posted in the neighborhood.
ZMOT: Consumers become aware of these events in advance either through e-mail newsletters, becoming fans on networking sites, or following brands on sites like Twitter. Not only that, but they can tell hundreds of their friends and family all about it in real time with one quick social networking status post.

FMOT: Consumers waited for their monthly beauty magazine issue to arrive, to learn about the next season's hot looks.
ZMOT: Consumers are going online to find inspiration for their own looks, and to get tips and tricks from experts -- or to take their cues from a favorite celebrity.

P&G and other companies have started to re-evaluate a brand's true First Moment of Truth. For example, Peter Hoyt, Executive Director of
In-Store Marketing Institute, talks about P&G's shift to focus on the notion of "Store Back" -- equivalent to what we are calling the Zero Moment of Truth.

What does ZMOT mean for marketers? It means that marketers need to button up their pull marketing strategies, not only the push strategies, and find ways to connect the two. 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.