The web has changed the way consumers make purchasing decisions. While overall buying cycle remains reasonably similar to what it used to be in the days of traditional marketing, the way consumers do research (online and offline) and make decisions has transformed dramatically.
Zero moment of truth or ZMOT is the term coined by Google’s Jim Lecinski in 2011. ZMOT describes how consumers research, gather and consume information about a product or service before making buying decisions. The web has empowered people to collect and process this information quickly and more efficiently. It is essential to keep in mind that buying choice is not always absolute and a consumer could still step back and go through the ZMOT process and come out with a different decision if additional information is discovered during the second iteration of ZMOT process.
ZMOT is fundamentally about establishing an emotional connection with your customer. Since ZMOT occurs before a purchase is made, a strong emotional connection can often overcome product competitive disadvantage. Apple brand is a good example when it comes to describing the emotional connection. There are plenty of people who still purchase Apple product even after coming across a product that has a feature superior to Apple. Voice recognition feature on a smartphone is a good example to consider.
In terms of process itself, there are four moments of truth for a product or service:
- Stimulus (online or offline)
- Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT
- First Moment of Truth or FMOT
- Second Moment of Truth or SMOT
For a visual representation of these moments, take a look at the infographic below.
Since ZMOT is the step when buying decisions are made, marketers tend to focus lot more time and energy on ZMOT. However, it is critical to align your stimulus with ZMOT to get the most out of your marketing strategy. For example, a well-executed digital marketing campaign promoting coupon redemption can influence the consumer behavior during ZMOT. However, it is not going to improve product quality. Without a competitive product or service, special offers can only do so much for a business.
In summary, it is important to have a good understanding of your product’s market segment and positioning within the segment to make headway during stimulus and ZMOT. As a business, you can’t compete on price, product features or special offers alone but a strong emotional connection with your consumers will drive the message home with your consumers when they think of you at ZMOT.