The Zero Moment Of Truth (or ZMOT) is the very contrivance that can be used to keep up with this new viewpoint of the modern day shopper, as it was shaped through the conscious observation of consumer behavior as it is affected by modern day inventions.
Studies show that shoppers do a lot of online research and spend a bit more time browsing for answers before they make a purchase. Agreed, these studies were not done in Africa, as some would love to argue, but we should consider that Africa has always consistently consumed the same civil material, and followed in the same patterns as the occidental world.
In terms of technology, academic structures, information and entertainment consumption, sports and fashion, it is clear that we have a tendency to order from the same menu as is done by our western counterpart. Only with very slight African variations if any at all. And make no mistake, this makes perfect sense as we were all first one single human race before we began to differ in appearance and our own different cultural self-stylings.
The zero moment of truth is a marketing principle that is based upon the 3-Step Mental Model of Marketing which was introduced by Procter & Gamble sometime around 2003 or thereabouts. In that 3-step model it was found that a shopper experiences a Stimulus stage, a Shelf stage and the Experience stage. These shelf & experience stages are known as the two different moments of truth in the shopping experience with a given product. Moment of truth implying that the shopper realized he had to make a decision. However, more recently, and thanks to more effective technologies in data collection, researches carried out by Google and other participants have discovered there is a 4th and more important step in the current mental model.
Now how does ZMOT fit into all of these?
Maybe the right question should be, where!
Again, research shows that a full 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase? And again, I will insist that there is no reason why we should doubt a similar behavior increasing among Africans. In fact, I am convinced that these numbers will definitely increase (in Africa & in the US) in the near future, since the technologies and arenas to publish these reviews are themselves increasing and getting more and more popular. For example, on Facebook I am served daily with a growing list of movies to rate. And I enjoy doing this because it is so easy and it sometimes gets the attention and amusement of some of my friends on the social network.
So the 3step model has now clearly become the 4step model, and ZMOT has clearly become that place where the shopper goes before he goes to the shelf (FMOT). It is the place where they pay attention to a conversation about the product and ask their own personalized questions. It’s not just about being exposed to advertising stimulus. The zero moment of truth is that place where the most important issues are raised before the decision is made on purchasing the product. It is that place where an office manager is sitting at his desk and comparing the price of laser printers and ink cartridges before heading off to the supply store. It is that place where a student is checking out ratings and reviews while looking for a cheap hotel in Johannesburg. It is even that young girl who had gotten to the beauty shop to buy a bottle of designer perfume, but suddenly decides to take a picture of another bottle to send to her friend in Kenya to ask her what she thinks about it. She even decided to check the reviews at Frangrance.Net while she waited for her friend’s trusted opinion.