What Is The FMOT?The First Moment Of Truth is the 3 to 7 seconds that it takes for a shopper browsing a store shelf to make up her/his mind on whether they are going to go home with your product or one of the competitors' versions that are close to it on the shelf.
It was coined by Procter & Gamble in 2003, when they understood that a shopper's eyes typically swept through a store shelf full of products - theirs and their competitions'.
The brevity of the period of attention for each item meant that gaining the advantage for their own products was critical.
Activities usually related with FMOT are in-store advertising, branded shelves, product packaging, interactive kiosks, digital store signage and even coupons.
And yet FMOT marketing is not so much about those examples as it is about the thinking behind them.
Which is why I should add that point-of-sale promotions had been in existence before the FMOT was coined (eventhough the traditional advertising world hadn't paid quite as much attention to it). So I am not actually giving absolute provenance to P&G here.
What they accomplished was to fashion a concept and mental model out of it. They separated it from the stimulus stage of advertising (i.e. TV, cable, radio, magazines, billboards, etc), trimmed their spending on those while allocating the freed-up funds to it; and even set up a department for it - run by a Director of FMOT.
Stimulus – (where psychology meets advertising) stimulus is exposure to advertising messages however insignificant such exposure might be.
For an advert to be consciously processed by a would-be customer, their attention is essential.
Hence, P&G felt a lot still needed to be done after this stage.
Let me illustrate:
Imagine that you recently got ₦2 million loan from your uncle to start that wonderful t-shirt printing business you've always wanted.
After striking a deal with the likes of Mega Plaza and Spar, you realized you had to be careful how you promoted your wares since you had spent a reasonable amount of your cash on store space.
Hence you opted for a FMOT strategy instead of the unnecessarily expensive form of mainstream advertising. (i.e. those earlier mentioned above - tv, magazines, etc). You had learned from me that it was a disciplined, customer-oriented way of thinking about the store - as a type of battle ground. Therefore you came up with ideas that you could afford:
You hired 3 store agents. You had some simple standing signs made, and printed some cool flyers, because let's face it, you are indeed a very creative person.
The whole idea here was that, just like P&G, you had now understood that shoppers did not come to the store with their minds already made up about what they came to buy. They may come for one item but leave with four more. Or they could come in for one product and leave with another entirely.
The thinking here is that if you can invest time, energy and resources into increasing the likelihood of shoppers choosing your product, then you are likely going to win at the First Moment Of Truth.
So anyway mid-way into the first day you call your 3 sales agents and they all report tremendous sales. You then start to wonder, "Are my t-shirts that pretty? Or is my FMOT strategy working much better than I expected?"
You decided to try something else; you switched your best performing sales agent with the least performing one.
And since you couldn't afford to print in-store coupons, you decided to do something similar: You gave every customer the privilege to come back wearing their t-shirts and get a 20% discount for their next purchase
This has the added benefit of using your customers as live models to advertise your t-shirts right there in the store - the first moment of truth - for other customers.
And the best part of this is that you did not get this idea from me. You came up with it yourself.....now that you are developing the mindset. You can keep observing (or gathering information) the process as you implement and reiterate. As your profits increase and your business grows you will also consider adding the ZMOT strategy and even traditional advertising or guerilla marketing techniques if need be. Read more about ZMOT here.
Now the funny thing is that since P&G came up with this many marketers in Africa (or in Nigeria at least) have still not caught on as much as they have abroad.
Yes, a few businesses are giving out coupons to help make sales, they even create large indoor signs and have them strategically located in your line of sight as you approach their product's isle.
But to be honest, they only do some of these things only because they see others do them. Hopefully, after reading this, a marketer in the retail sector would be better equipped to do battle at the FMOT.
I will not likely be writing about the Second Moment Of Truth (SMOT) because that is the experience stage of the product. It occurs with the consumer's use of the product, and it mainly boils down to the actual quality of that product. Marketing does play a role there as well, but one that is out of the scope of this article.
I am expecting your comments or questions.
Let me know what your experience is at the popular stores around Africa. What are marketers doing to grab your attention on the isles?
Do you know that FMOT principles could be applied to online stores as well? Even airports, cinema halls, hospitals. In fact, almost anywhere you can find a cashier. ☺