Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) – Winning Women Shoppers

A few days back I wanted to buy a western top and didn’t have the time to visit many stores and check them out for myself. I am a very choosy shopper and usually try to visit as many shops as I can before buying something. In this case, I was in a hurry and quickly texted my WhatsApp group, who according to me are a bunch of conscious and smart shoppers. They gave me a list of sites wherein I had the option to view the collection of multiple brands, do a comparative study of the prices, ratings and reviews. It worked miraculously for me and I ended up with a fabulous green Van Heusen top as well as two pairs of jeans from Vero Moda in a matter of an hour or so.

Smartphone aided shopping

The moment I reached out for my smartphone was a game-changing moment, as marketing pundits would say. It is this moment that makes consumers (a major chunk being women) smart, confident and satisfied shoppers (Like me!). This moment of information enables consumers to make choices that decide the success or failure of any brand today.

Here’s some statistics that would surprise you:

84% of Americans engage in this “Zee-Mot”

Asia Pacific region will become the world’s largest e-commerce region in 2014 at $500 billion

More than 40% of consumers in key Asian markets use a smartphone to shop

1 in 3 internet users in Asia spend upto 50% of their CPG research time online

77% of women are more likely to seek a product in a store after reading a review of the product on an online message board or forum                                                                                                                                                                                                   

This is how consumers like me make decisions today: from online shopping sites with ratings and reviews, from beauty and lifestyle blogs, from friends and social media. We all learn from search results, user comments, five-star ratings, text ads, image ads and official brand websites.

In short, We decide at the “Zee-MOT”! So, the question arises, “What really has changed now?”

For decades we have focused on three critical moments of the 3-Step Mental Model.

3 Step mental model

If I had gone the traditional route of shopping I would have made 3 steps viz.

STIMULUS:  My urge of buying a new top from my favorite brand for that Friday night party with my friends.

SHELF:  I would have taken some time off and visited the nearest Vero Moda showroom.

EXPERIENCE:  I finally buy the top and go back home feeling happy.

But today, the critical moment is the moment between the Stimulus and Shelf in every product category. I fast forwarded my pursuit of that enchanting green top, pulled out my smartphone, did some research and BANG – Decision made!!!

ZMOT shopping model - diagram 2

You can see for yourself, how important “Zee-MOT”  is in driving customer decisions.

Why are advertisers and marketers going after women shoppers?

Because data from website, social and mobile strongly suggest that women are the dominant buying group. They account for 85% of all consumer purchases, everything from automobiles to health care:

Alpha Women - Shopping pattern

Today’s Alpha women have overcome the traditional stay-at-home tag and moved on to being powerhouse business women who know how to maintain a balance between demanding worklife, family, exercise regimes and other aspects of life. They are financially independent and have tremendous buying power. These confident women know what they want and they go after it setting trends for other women to follow.

Google asked TNS to do a comprehensive study of 8000 women shoppers in Asia across six CPG categories: Baby care, Household products, Skincare & Cosmetics, Food & drink, Hair care and Oral care products to know where exactly influence takes places and the shoppers become smart enough and decide.

The study revealed that an average Asian woman uses 6.3 sources of information to make an informed decision which range from TV commercials and magazine articles to recommendations from friends and family, to websites, ratings, social media and online blogs. Korean women on an average consult 4.4 sources. Their Malaysian counterparts on other hand consult 7.9 sources.

We see that in developing markets, the number of sources is higher compared to their developed counterparts. This suggests a positive correlation between GDP and consumer confidence at “Zee-MOT”. Of course, when money is scarce, consumers scout around through multiple resources for making smart choices. Talking about myself, I prefer to search and verify prudently !

Should Business Managers chalk out strategies incorporating the “Zee-MOT” factor?

The answer is a resounding YES !

The TNS study on female shoppers highlights how two main influencers of shopping: Stimulus & ZMOT have fared on the six CPG categories. The study reveals Shoppers today use ZMOT sources right along with the classic stimulus sources. The more information available, the more the shopper seeks. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle!

ZMOT model - Business angle
Source: TNS Female Shoppers Study, Q4 2012. QD2b. “When you were considering purchasing the product, what sources of information did you seek out to help you with your decision?” Sources of information – Total (n= 8004).

The key take away is that “Zee-MOT” should not be an afterthought rather an equal thought for the Retail and e-commerce industry. Retailers need to start respecting the fact the Women shoppers are not a niche group with a single answer. The gender stereotypes of making products ‘friendly’ by making them pink, soft, frilly, petite, polka-dotted and flirtatious may no longer work, instead they need to spend time researching on “her” wants, understand and factor-in her opinion. Above all, retailers need to accept the fact that her influence is over and beyond the point of purchase; she loves to share her shopping experience and researches through multiple avenues before making that purchase – she demands a 360 degree view of the product.

Today as a retailer, if your brand is not “visible” when a woman shopper searches for products, then you are probably generating more business for your competitors! Simply put, you need to start thinking of a multi-screen online strategy – From social media to discussion forums to videos to images.

BRIDGEi2i can help you win the ZMOT game by deciphering the impact of your online marketing & advertising campaigns across channels and an action plan on how you can drive your consumer’s shopping journey. Visit our website to know more.

(1) Winning the Zero Moment of Truth in Asia, Google,2013
(2) eMarketer report, June of 2013
(3) MasterCard Worldwide Intelligence, Online Shopping Survey, March 20, 2013
(4) How Digital influences How We Shop Around the World; The Nielsen Company, August 2012

Blog written by Trina Maitra, Analytics Consultant at BRIDGEi2i

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.