There is no denying the fact that the internet has changed the shopping process for consumers as they’re influenced by online search, display advertising, social media and online reviews to more easily make buying decisions about the brands, companies and products they want to purchase.
This has always been the case in the automotive world; people often went to the library to pick up an issue of Consumer Reports to check out what kind of car they should buy before schlepping to multiple dealerships around town. I was recently referred to a book by Google, titled, Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, which details the difference between the “first moment of truth” (in-store review/trial) and “stimulus” (initial marketing intended to drive interest) in customer choice and product marketing.
Basically, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is the point at which a shopper decides to do some pre-work on the internet before making any buying decisions. These people jump on review sites, crowd source their friend group on social media sites and search for video demos and deals to help them make their buying decision. Often you see this person in the store explaining to the salesperson the features that they themselves haven’t learned about the product yet because, “I have a ton of these products to learn, sir.” Yes, I’ve been that guy. Most recently for a mobile hot-spot to be used by my mother in her office. Later this year I have to buy a new car, and I’ve already been shopping and reading online reviews for about two months.
This brings me to my next point, the ZMOT study also brings up an issue that I’ve discussed in previous blogs, like Why Online Sentiment Analysis is the New Focus Group. Which is that online word of mouth (WoM) is becoming exponentially more important. It was noted in the ZMOT study that 37% of shoppers found online social sources to be an influential driver when making purchase decisions, which was up from 19% in 2010. In one year, social shopping relevance/importance nearly doubled. We are reaching the kind of statistical significance levels that have literally never been seen in marketing at this scale. Think about what this means for the automotive industry, automotive retail solutions and consumer research professionals. Rather than guessing, we will know what customers think in near real-time.
I’m of the mindset that predictive analytics, campaign evaluation, key drivers to success and challenge and even short-term forecasting can be driven by social sentiment, online WoM or whatever you want to call it, in the near future. We just need to get some of those analytical minds on the case of finding correlations between qualitative verbiage and hard quantitative metrics like sales and loyalty statistics.
Cobalt and Google are partnering in the automotive space with an Automotive Zero Moment of Truth study, which is being undertaken as you read. It outlines the buying process of the vehicle shopper, and how internet study has changed the shopping and decision-making process for vehicle purchase. Check it out; there is still time to be a study subject. You may be able to shape online vehicle shopping history, while simultaneously increasing sales at your dealership.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.