Winning the “Zero Moment of Truth” with Connected Consumer Relationships

By | September 19, 2011

Consumer goods manufacturers spend vast sums of money to influence consumers to choose their products over alternatives, a scenario that plays out amid the bright lights, noise and visual clutter of the store.  This decision point was labeled by Procter & Gamble as the “First Moment of Truth” all the way back 2005 to convey the attention brands must pay to affecting the outcome of the consumer’s path to purchase – either selecting your product or another from the shelf.  Mass media advertising and shopper marketing investments are commonly employed to tip the scale in one brand’s favor versus another.


Since then, as consumers adopted online, mobile and social channels at scale, the landscape has shifted, so says Google, arguably the king of Big Data.  The search goliath instead sees the shelf today as a predetermined fulfillment step in a consumer’s purchase journey; a “Zero Moment of Truth” or ZMOT for short.  This is the topic of a book by the same name, and is the subject of an August 2011 Wharton interview with the author, Google’s chief ZMOT evangelist.


ZMOT claims today’s consumers will seek out product information online prior to a purchase and it is this action which foretells the outcome at the shelf.  While this makes sense for a considered purchase such as a television, automobile, or washing machine, it seems a bit far-fetched for repeat purchase, high frequency and low price items such as bread – a difference of opinion noted by those commenting on the piece.  The book’s author claims otherwise.  There’s likely some middle ground on the influence of online research on less considered purchases.


With much of the article and comments focused on “online research,” less apparent are more thoughtful comments regarding the bigger (data) picture the author points out.  For example:

“…consumers are becoming more empowered.  They want to be in control, as opposed to the manufacturer who typically had the control.  The strategy for the marketer is to create platforms to allow the consumer to engage with the company and with others [through] social networking and the like.”

“The successful marketer will be the one who employs these tools at the right time, at the right place, with the right information and makes it easy for the consumer to use….The marketer has to rethink the traditional strategy.”

For CPG marketers, the implication of ZMOT is that the path to purchase is not solely about online research.  It’s about all of the ways consumers are willing and able to connect with brands and other consumers, and how these collective actions affect product selection at the shelf.  Success or failure then depends on how well the CPG brand curates these actions.


Pull marketing, such as opt in email and mobile programs for coupons and special offers, as well as website registration to inform the presentation of more personalized and relevant content, are just two commonly used methods.  Social media is another that smarter marketers are beginning to connect with data from other channels as they seek a 360 degree view of consumers to inform more relevant and timely messages across channels (and for multi-brand portfolios, also across brands).


Integrating and acting on multiple sources of consumer data will become one of the most powerful tools CPG brands have to influence the path to purchase in their favor.  Some already recognize the power of this “Connected Consumer,” including a familiar face:

“Procter & Gamble is moving in this area…We really have to start looking at these new innovative experiments that are happening out there.”

With data the start and end points of any effective direct to consumer marketing, Teradata is well positioned to help CPG brands turn the Zero Moment of Truth in their favor, especially given the added benefit of multi- and cross-channel marketing capabilities embodied in Aprimo applications.


Gib Bassett

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