Digitizing the 1st Moment of Truth


When I was the Marketing Director for P&G China, our Regional Head, A.G. Lafley (later the P&G Chairman and CEO), used to come to Guangzhou, China every quarter. Part of the “review” ritual was going on in-home visits and store checks. Naturally, these visits were less about CEO learning and more about making an important point to the local organization: the consumer is the boss.

Critical Marketing Consumer Touchpoint: In-Store Experience

The entourage trooped from kiosk to kiosk, always focused on issues like: Are we in stock? Are we shelved appropriately? Is pricing in-line with objective? And so on. Part of the ritual was the CEO making sure to take unannounced detours—just in case the stores looked too good to be true. But, of course, the core of the “1st moment of truth” was about physical in-store conditions.

In-Store Experience + Digital Information

No more. Increasingly, the future of the 1st moment of truth appears to be some combination of the in-store experience coupled with the digital world. Ask yourself this: how many times have you stood in front of a store shelf comparing products, but really wishing you had more information—any information—before making a decision? There’s clearly a big consumer need for relevant information at the store-shelf.

Today, there are a series of Smartphone apps which do exactly that. UPC driven, these apps bring social media to the store-shelf by helping consumers consider user reviews, social responsibility ratings, and other peer feedback—right at the 1st moment of truth.

UPC apps: Digital In-Store Experience

Why Is Digital at the Point of Sale So Important?

First, as I wrote in an earlier post “When Will Mobile Marketing Get Moving?,” it’s projected that by 2012, Smartphone usage in the U.S. will surpass that of feature phones. This means that before very long, most people will be able to download and use the apps at the point of sale. Scale is close at hand.

Second, these apps will increasingly include Social Media features so that you will be able to read product specific feedback from friends, family and peers—just before making your purchase decision. This could be enabled by Facebook Connect, built into the App itself, or by virtue of a separate Google Sidewiki application.

Facebook Connect: Allows Users to Interact With Brands In Real Time (Image from Mashable.com)

Finally, there are opportunities for these apps to create advertising applications that are geo-location or product specific. Since your GPS enabled phone will know where you are, and your UPC snapshot will communicate your category and brand of interest, this will provide a hugely relevant set of data for advertisers to use for targeting.

Apple’s recent announcement of iAd, coupled with their model of sharing ad revenue with app developers, are set to make advertising driven apps a whole lot more appealing and likely. It looks like app driven advertising is here to stay.

3 Digital Moment of Truth Apps

So, the trends are all in favor of these apps that marry the shopping experience with real time, important purchase information. What are some of the most interesting early apps in this space?

  1. ShopSavvy – How many times have you stood in front of a store-shelf considering buying a product but unsure as to whether it’s a good deal or not? 81% of Americans use their mobile devices while shopping — so they can find out. Around the longest, ShopSavvy has huge potential to play havoc with retail pricing — according to Ad Age, ShopSavvy reported more than 42 million scans last month. With ShopSavvy, you scan a product’s UPC, and the app then tells you the prices at other competing retailers (both in-store and online) for the exact same item.  If it is cheaper elsewhere, they’ll go buy it—retailers are sure to love this app.
  2. Sticky Bits – Launched in March 2010, Sticky Bits enables users to take a UPC photo and attach “bits” of content to it, creating a social page for the brand and UPC. Think about this for a minute: every product with a UPC can potentially have its own social media space—with all of the positive and negative potential that represents. Users can write reviews, attach comments, and generate any kind of user generated content they think is appropriate for the product.
  3. Good Guide – Consumers increasingly want to buy brands that not only work, but make them feel good about their purchase decision. A big part of this is knowing that the company operates in a socially responsible manner. Good Guide enables consumers to spot check your brand’s social responsibility with scores across the product’s health, environmental, and social impact. Good Guide simply continues a trend toward Brands needing to operate in ways that are more open and transparent.

Good Guide App: Product Knowledge for Eco-Conscious Consumers

The 1st moment of truth is set for big changes. The combination of the physical world shopping experience plus social media at the point of purchase promises to change the shopping landscape in a way that nothing has in a long, long time.

I haven’t talked with A.G. Lafley about this change (although I did talk with him recently), but I think I know what he would say: “the consumer is boss.” Meaning that the 1st moment of truth – what the consumer does at store shelf – is becoming even more important with the introduction of digital content.

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6 Responses to Digitizing the 1st Moment of Truth

  1. Gregory Johnson says:

    Randall…great post, and as usual on point. As a new ShopSavvy user…the App literally changed my purchasing intent this weekend at a vendor where I had been a blindly loyal customer!

    • beardrs says:

      Greg–Thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to share your experience with ShopSavvy. It’s a great app, and is set for big growth. It will be interesting to see if they use iAd to create advertising capability in ShopSavvy and to see how this will play out with advertisers. Randall

  2. @Gregory Johnson

    Thanks for the ShopSavvy love! 🙂

  3. utehagen says:

    Hi Randall, thanks for the post. The rate of change is really dizzying and I agree that AG’s reaction will always be: consumer is boss. I am really worried that people in consumer goods companies will have a very hard time to keep up with all these changes — still too much focused on the inside world rather being with the consumers every day. Despite all the efforts of Top Management. Ute

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Ute–You raise an interesting point. When we worked at P&G, “external focus” primarily meant talking to consumers and retailers–e.g. staying close to the customer. Today, Marketers need to maintain a much broader external focus–including keeping up with all of the changes in technology, media and measurement. It’s a real challenge, but one that the best Marketers will use to their advantage versus the laggards. Randall

  4. utehagen says:

    Randall — very well said. Ute

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