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Analyzing the Zero Moment of Truth

Let’s say you’re thinking of buying a new car.  Where do you begin?  Most likely, you would start your search online- this is pretty common.  However, what is more surprising is that consumers are beginning to search online for even the most low-risk, mundane purchases.  

For example, I went to Target the other day in need of a new shampoo.  While this purchase would likely cost me less than $10, I came prepared.  On the train ride to the store, I began searching the Internet on my iPhone for shampoos for fine hair.  After locating a few budget-friendly options that I could find at my local Target, I began to sift through user reviews and ratings, as well as search for online coupons.  It was these opinions and deals that then shaped my decision as to which shampoo I would ultimately decide to purchase upon arriving at the shelf.  

The idea behind the Zero Moment of Truth is that I am not alone in this behavior.  Actually, 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.  Source: Lecinski, Jim.  “Zero Moment of Truth.” 2011.  Thus, it is no longer satisfactory to meet the needs of your shopper at the shelf, or the First Moment of Truth.  Rather, the Zero Moment of Truth influences which brands will earn a spot on the shopping list, prior to store arrival.  If a brand or product isn’t present at this Zero Moment of Truth, it will not even be considered an option by the customer.  That’s a scary thought for marketers.

Essentially, today’s customers are much more educated on products before they ever enter the store.  They are capable of finding detailed information online about the brands they love, so they can buy with absolute confidence.  Then, through the power of social media, these consumers share their knowledge and tastes with others.  Thus, how can a brand afford not to take advantage of this publicity?  Put simply, they can’t.

Yet another phenomenon you’ll notice on your next shopping trip is the tendency of consumers to compare products online while in the store.  Specifically, 79% of consumers now say they use a smart-phone to help with shopping. Source: Lecinski, Jim.  “Zero Moment of Truth.” 2011.  Can’t decide which chapstick can save your lips from the Polar Vortex outside?  Pull out your iPhone and compare product ingredients and user reviews.  It’s simple, efficient, and reassures customers that they’re purchasing the best product to suit their unique needs.

The proof is in the numbers.  Consumers make decisions, more than ever, at the Zero Moment of Truth.  To sum up this post, I’d like to emphasize the most essential aspects to understand regarding the Zero Moment of Truth and what it means for your brand.  

To begin, this moment occurs online and typically starts with a search engine.  It happens in real time and could be at any time of the day due to the variety of platforms and devices available to the end user.  Further, the consumer is in charge- not the company.  It is the consumer who sifts through the Internet and pulls the information that is valuable to that particular individual.  Undeniably, this process is emotional, so the best way to satisfy a customer is to appeal to his or her emotional needs.  Finally, this is not a message- it is a conversation.  Therefore, the conversation is multi-faceted in that it allows friends, experts, strangers, and marketers to engage in the discussion.

So don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity to interact with your customer.  The Zero Moment of Truth is simple and its benefits are undeniable.  All you need to do now is get your brand in on the conversation.  What are you waiting for?


  • eCommerce