NEW YORK: Marketers must consider a new step on the path to purchase known as the “ultimate moment of truth” – or “UMOT” – according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Laurent Muzellec and Eamonn O’Raghallaigh, both from Trinity Business School/Dublin, outlined this idea in a paper entitled, Mobile Technology and Its Impact on the Consumer Decision-Making Journey.

As a starting point, they demonstrated how the underlying concept has evolved over time, beginning with the traditional “moment of truth”, when a consumer interacts with a brand at retail, and the “second moment of truth”, when they experience the product.

Google has also highlighted the “zero moment of truth” for the online search stage of the purchase process, while a “third moment of truth” is said to mark the occasion where a person shares details of their product or service experience.

While consumers “still go through the need, research, purchase, experience and sharing-of-experience stages”, the academics asserted, the rise of smartphones has yielded a fundamental change.

“The journey … crucially has evolved to include all of these distinct moments merging into one synchronous moment, a UMOT,” Muzellec and O’Raghallaigh argued.

“In the initial P&G model, several days could pass between the time a consumer was exposed to an advertisement and the purchase. Hence, the marketers’ focus was on brand awareness,” they added.

“By contrast, mobile technologies allow consumers to perform most (or all of the) different stages simultaneously or within seconds.”

A case in point: Starbucks’ “Order & Pay” app enables users to purchase their beverages in advance and skip the in-store line. Within two years of its launch, some 7% of the chain’s sales were driven by this tool.

For marketers, the authors continued, the consequences of the “UMOT” shift incorporate both theoretical considerations and financial concerns.

“Failure to prioritise the engagement of the consumer at the UMOT may push a company further back up the supply chain, putting it at risk of becoming the supplier of a commodity (product and services offered) with no direct access to the end user,” they said.

“To reach its potential [mobile] audience and harvest data, companies might end up having to pay new intermediaries that currently embrace and trade on their ubiquitous connection with the global customer.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff