Is Your Business Winning the 'ZMOT'? (Publisher's Note)

by Jeff Hankins  on Monday, Apr. 23, 2012 12:00 am  

How have your buying habits changed in the past three years, and how has your marketing plan evolved to capitalize on the new ways in which we shop for products and services?

We have indeed changed. I engaged in a retailing phenomenon the other day and didn't realize that I was part of a revolutionary shift in buying decisions.

I walked into Best Buy with the specific purpose of purchasing an OtterBox case for my phone so I wouldn't crush it while snow skiing. It's the brand I was familiar with, had seen and was encouraged to buy by friends.

But after locating the OtterBox case, I noticed another product I had never heard of. It was $20 more expensive, but the packaging promised me it would protect my phone six feet under water so I thought, "Could this be a better option?" I pulled out my phone, launched the Google application and typed "OtterBox vs. Lifeproof" so I could do a quick comparison. I went to a review from a website that I was familiar with and trusted to help me make an informed decision. Apparently Lifeproof may be protective under water, but there's an annoying bubble between the case and the phone screen. I stuck with the OtterBox.

This experience is what Jim Lecinski calls the "Zero Moment of Truth," or ZMOT, which is a new step in the retail shopping experience that is escalating. He's vice president of U.S. sales and service for Google in Chicago, and he researched and wrote the book using the famous 20 percent of work time that Google employees are allowed for development projects.

He explained that ZMOT doesn't replace any traditional step in the shopping decision process. Buyers are still stimulated by media (both content and advertising) and brands we grew up with. The "First Moment of Truth" or FMOT happens in the store with sampling, a discussion with a sales person, product packaging and such. The "Second Moment of Truth" (SMOT) occurs when we mention a product to family and friends, take a survey or write a review online.

That Zero Moment is sandwiched between the stimulus and FMOT. By early 2010, 85 percent of purchase decisions were made before entering a store. That fell to 70 percent in 2011.

Lecinski says two unprecedented forces have led to the brand marketing evolution: recessionary pressures and explosive computer power, particularly in mobile devices.
As one might expect, there's a major benefit to search engines like Google for that ZMOT. Just about any comparative research is going to start with a search engine, so your brand and its benefits should appear prominently in search results through paid or organic display results. The problem for most businesses at that point, however, is that only 21 percent of Google's top advertisers have mobile-optimized websites.

New research by Morgan Stanley shows mobile will overtake desktop for Web access by 2015, so no business can ignore that trend. Here at Arkansas Business Publishing Group, we're seeing stunning trends with mobile access to our major websites, and that's why you'll see some significant changes to our websites in the coming weeks.

Shoppers today use twice as many sources to arrive at a decision, and use each source almost twice as heavily as in the past. It's easy to understand when you take traditional media and marketing influences, then tack on the impact of all the social media sharing and commenting options.

Those Quick Response Codes or "QR" codes that you see popping up everywhere on signage and packaging are simply a way of helping buyers fulfill the ZMOT step in the buying process. A quick scan takes you to a mobile-optimized page, a video, a flier, a coupon or a signup form.

Lecinski's book offers many more thoughts and much more research, and it's available as a free ebook that you can download from Google Books or the Apple Store. It's an important read for anyone associated with the retail industry.

Jeff Hankins can be reached via e-mail at JHankins@ABPG.com, followed on Twitter @JeffHankins and connected with at Facebook.com/Jeff.Hankins and Linkedin.com/in/JeffHankins.

 

 

Please read our comments policy before commenting.