Insights, Journals

Journal: Consumer Decision Journey: The Zero Moment of Truth

The New Model of Consumer Decision Journey

In the digital age, it is empirical to realize that customer interaction with brands and products has evolved beyond the traditional experience at brick-and-mortar stores. In the advance of digital marketing, Procter & Gamble redefined the marketing model in 2005 which consists of the following steps:

  1. Stimulus: a trigger that makes the consumer want a product, probably through an ad or from a friend
  2. First moment of truth: the consumer finds the product at a shelf in store
  3. Second moment of truth: the experience after the consumer makes the purchase and how well the product meets the consumer’s expectations

“Shoppers make up their minds about a product in three to seven seconds, just the time it takes to note a product on a store shelf” – Wall Street Journal, 2005

The fourth factor that comes into play in this model is termed the “Zero moment of truth” (ZMOT). ZMOT occurs before the First Moment of Truth when customers can compare the products in interest in a pre-shopping stage, e.g. when consumers browse through product catalogs on online stores at their own convenience.


Taking into consideration that information of a product or brand is highly accessible in a wide variety of channels, from traditional means such as TV, newspaper, to mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, we should not be surprised that ZMOT emerges as a key stage in the customer journey. With a similar ideas on the evolving consumer decision journey in the digital age, in the June 2009 McKinsey Quarterly, McKinsey proposed a new model in which the interaction of consumers with brands and products is coming from a wide variety of channels, creating a non-linear process from product comparing till the final purchases.


Source: McKinsey Quarterly

In the consumer decision framework, it is important to note that a well-established loyalty loop can help brands bypass the initial consideration set and active evaluation stages along the decision-making process.

ZMOT Strategies

The increase of marketing channels also means that ZMOT shoppers become highly unpredictable and hence, challenges digital marketers to win the ZMOT from consumers.  In 2012 Google’s ZMOT Handbook, researchers derived 20 ZMOT ideas for effective consumer acquisition right in the early stage of the purchase journey.

Some of the ideas from the Google ZMOT handbook are noted below:

  1. Every ZMOT shopper is unique
    • Try hyper-local ads and local offer sites to reach nearby customers
    • Turn on ad extensions to help shoppers see the most decisive data right away
    • Add photos and videos to help shoppers get fast info and jump loser to their decision
    • Measure both macro conversions (like sales) and micro conversions (like email signups and video views) to get your true value of winning at ZMOT
    • Focus on the lifetime value of each customer, not just each lick
  2. It’s never been easier to walk out of the store
    • Pick the ZMOT battles you can win. Set yourself apart with loyalty, convenience, and speed
    • Make sure mobile is a full partner in your plans. If you don’t have a mobile site, create one
    • Consider mobile-friendly ads, including click-to-call and mobile video ads
  3. Shopping cart abandonment is at all-time high
    • Find affiliate advertisers that fit your goals, then work with them to expand your reach and bring shoppers back to your cart
    • Use features like live chat to grab potential customers as they arrive from ZMOT
    • Add images to your website to build credibility and help shoppers make fast choices
    • Use videos to give shoppers the clear visuals and product information they crave
  4. Push advertising isn’t enough anymore
    • Run integrated campaigns across all screens. For instance, make sure your search ads work well with your TV ads and vice-versa
    •  Think bids, not budgets. Ask: “How much is a click worth to me?”
  5. Cross-shopping behavior is snowballing
    • Focus those campaigns on “tablet time” – after dinner and while watching TV
    • Play up social signals like video view counters and ratings stars
    • Join the attribution revolution: measure everything that brought the customer to you, not just the last click.

Source: Google’s ZMOT Handbook

Study the Consumer Journey with Marketing Analytics

In the evolution of the digital consumer journey, marketing analytics also comes with new powerful tools for marketers to study the consumer decision journey and derive innovative marketing tactics. For example, to improve the trigger stage, marketers can perform Clickstream analysis to understand user interaction on the company’s web pages and identify ‘touch points’ that can grab user attention to its products. To learn about the post-purchase experience, marketers can perform customer analytics through massive experience surveys and subsequently pick up focal areas to increase consumer retention rate.