A Brand New Day

April 11, 2012 by Brian Handrigan

The Mental Model of the Current Retail Consumer


Brands establish and maintain their value by connecting with consumers and building equity. Many companies use a combination of advertising, marketing and promotions to increase their brands’ equity. For brands that exist primarily at retail, leveraging insights about consumer behavioral changes can create a competitive advantage over other brands.

Many retail marketers subscribe to the findings of the 2005 Proctor & Gamble study on consumer retail behavior that identified a “First Moment of Truth”- the first seven seconds that a consumer spends noticing 
a product on the shelf. The P&G study has become the foundation of modern POP and packaging design. It has driven organizations to spend time and money on packaging & shopper marketing studies as a component to win consumers when they shop in order to drive retail 
brand value.

This philosophy worked when it was identified in 2005, but… consumers have changed…and our methods must change as well. Starting in 2008, as the effectiveness of traditional advertising and marketing began to decline, we asked ourselves what was changing about consumers.

The answer, THEM!

As DVR’s became more prevalent and consumers had more choices of media to consume and outlets for their expression, the locus of control shifted from the marketer sharing their message with the consumer to the consumer choosing which messages to let in. As consumers had to decide what distractions to invest their cognitive capital in, they became increasingly distrustful of prepared, “manipulative” messages and looked to peers (and even strangers) for unfiltered opinions and experiences to assist them in their self-education and decision-making.

This transition to a consumer-centric marketing 
environment was researched by Google and published in the 2011 eBook “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth”. In the book, Jim Lecinski built upon the model identified by P&G and inserted a new Moment of Truth – the Zero Moment of Truth. This ZMOT is based on the premise that retail consumers are no longer “shopping” in the 
traditional sense, but rather pre-shopping online (84% of Americans) through online reviews, blogs, customer 
comments, etc. The average number of online sources consulted increased from 5.3 to 10.4 from 2010 to 2011.

In today’s market environment, retail brands must move beyond the aisle to 
connect with their consumers on their terms, when and where they are looking to engage.

Do you think most major retail brands have adapted to this new reality?

Brian Handrigan
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Founder and President of GRA | MATR

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