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September 21, 2005
Malcolm Gladwells First Moment of Truth
If this doesnt sound like a page ripped from Malcolm Gladwells Blink, Im not sure what would: Wednesday's print edition of the Wall Street Journal has a front-page story on Procter & Gambles efforts to win over the consumer at the FMOT (first moment of truth):
Despite spending billions on traditional advertising, the consumer products giant thinks this instant [the FMOT] is one of its most important marketing opportunities. It created a position 18 months ago, Director of First Moment of Truth, or Director of FMOT, to produce sharper, flashier in-store displays.
Within P&G, FMOT is referred to casually as EFF-mot. Moreover, the Director of FMOT commands a 15-person team to develop the type of store displays that can win over customers in the first three to seven seconds of the shopping experience. Its an all-out war to win the battle for shelf space and convince shoppers to buy ever more Tide, Crest and Pampers. Alas, the article goes on to explain the business of in-store marketing (which has grown to become an $18.6 billion a year industry) without referencing Malcolm Gladwell at all. Instead, the article goes on to explain the importance of Wal-Marts in-store TV network.
Anyway, Malcolm Gladwells book Blink was all about the importance of the first few seconds in making decisions and the value of rapid cognition. Most people claim that the book was nothing more than an apology for snap judgments and intuition. But the book went beyond that it showed that too much information may actually hamper the decision-making process. Snap judgments are only useful if they contain an analysis of the two or three most important facts needed to reach a decision. For example, if doctors are given two or three highly relevant details in an emergency room operating environment, they can make much more effective decisions than if they were flooded with lots of minutiae.
It sounds like P&Gs head of FMOT is actually following some of these ideas. According to the director of FMOT, in-store packaging should interrupt the shopping experience and answer very succinctly three basic questions: Who am I? What am I? Why am I right for you? This is Gladwellian thinking, eh? If the consumer has to think too much, he or she will move on to the next aisle or decide that maybe its not worth the effort to buy toothpaste today.
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