According to research from global consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble, consumers make the decision to purchase a product in three to seven seconds: just the time it takes to notice the product in a store.
That three to seven second time gap, known as the ‘first moment of truth’, is the moment when all of a product’s advertising and publicity either translates into a purchase … or doesn’t.
With the internet’s fast-growing role in consumer activity, this consumer behaviour moment has undergone profound evolution. According to the market research organisation Ipsos, at the end of 2012, a majority of the world’s consumers (69% of adults between the ages of 18 and 64) indicated that they routinely consult online reviews to help them decide whether or not to make a purchase.
Google’s market research arm has investigated online decision-making more deeply, and how the internet has changed how we decide to buy. The result is the determination of a new point along that continuum: the ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ (or ZMOT).
The ZMOT website (www.zeromomentoftruth.com) defines it as ‘the moment when you grab your phone, laptop or some other device and start learning about a product, service, idea, or even a person’.
ZMOT, in other words, is that brief sliver of time between the initial stimulus – an advertisement, article, or other communication that sparks awareness and interest – and the decision to find out more, or to buy.
It is fast gaining visibility as a crucial moment in the consumer decision-making process, whether the decision at hand is to book a flight, buy concert tickets, or even, when perusing a dating site, to send an email to an attractive individual.
For providers of life and pension products, recognition of the ZMOT is becoming increasingly crucial. Baby-boomers around the world are moving into retirement planning and becoming more and more concerned about the longevity of their pension assets. Many have already launched their own research to find the financial instrument – or instruments – that will help them achieve their retirement goals.
This need will become even more urgent over the next two decades, as the sizable boomer cohort moves into its retirement years. Pension product providers will have to establish online environments that provide information in an easy to digest manner, engenders trust and confidence from current and potential clients, and supports both sellers and buyers with effective e-underwriting tools that are simple to use and can generate speedy approval decisions.
Some insurance companies are already aware of this need, and have transformed their web presences to cultivate consumer trust and confidence.
The South Africa financial services company BrightRock Ltd (www.brightrock.co.za), for example, has assembled a simple, uncluttered website that explains, in clear and easy-to-understand language its needs-matched products, services and philosophy.
It also explains to consumers the process of finding out more about its products and how it can help. BrightRock’s site also features ‘The Bright Side of Life’, a dedicated portal where visitors can click on ‘BrightStuff’ – entertaining, informative articles with tips for improving health and enhancing quality of life – and ‘BrightSpots’, which features interesting and fun local leisure time activities.
SunLife of Canada’s interactive online magazine, ‘Brighter Life’ (http://brighterlife.ca), provides tools geared to self-education about retirement needs, from retirement income calculators to YouTube videos explaining the range of available plans and products.
It also features tools to keep customers engaged, from Twitter feeds and portals containing a broad range of articles about money, health, family, working life and retirement.
Its financial knowledge quizzes and tools enabling lifestage planning and no-obligation help determining how much insurance a visitor to the site might need. The site also features a free monthly newsletter and help finding a financial adviser.
Presenting informative, uncluttered websites that describe offerings clearly can simplify the research and decision-making process. They can also strengthen the bond of trust between insurance companies and their potential customers.
However, the key for insurers seeking to elicit and leverage the ZMOT from their website visitors will be their ability to develop e-underwritten products that can be applied for easily, without the need for copious disclosure, with decisions rendered while the customer is still on the website.
As the insurance industry’s capacity to provide simplified, cost-effective underwriting for life and pension products continues to improve, companies are more likely to experience Moments Of Truth, be they First or Zero. And there is no moment like the present to prepare.