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Life’s always been about creating moments. But now it’s all about the ‘micro’ moments! It’s an impulse thing…

Marketing Trends Blog Image July

Depending on your age, you may remember as a youngster being dragged around supermarkets with one or both of your parents for the monthly or weekly grocery shop. Precious moments you’d no doubt rather have spent with friends or quite frankly any other way imaginable. The highlight of these trips was typically the moment your captor (aka parent) headed towards the tills as this meant your torment was almost over. For your parent(s) however, they knew that for them ten minutes of their own unbearable and unfortunately unavoidable (thanks to marketer’s) personal hell was most likely about to begin.  The dreaded wait in the often long and winding queue which conveniently and frustratingly for parents meandered for what felt like miles – not accidently I might add – past every known form of confectionery (sweets, chocolates, candy), beverage or fad toy imaginable! Child heaven. The impulse isle, where every child on the planet perfected their powers of persuasion, through tantrums, bribery, false promises of being good and any other form of manipulation they could muster. Precious moments indeed.

Marketers and retail marketers in particular, tended to exploit the impulsive shopping urge which is inextricably tied to the basic want for instant gratification. An early definition for “impulse purchases” came out of the DuPont Consumer Buying Habits Study which ran from 1948 to 1965 and defined impulse buying quite simply as: “unplanned purchase made by a consumer”. The definition was later updated, to explicitly refer to the intense urge that a consumer feels when they want to buy an item right then and there, often causing cognitive dissonance for the consumer. Marketers recognised early on that kids were great targets for impulse buying and although often not the direct purchasers themselves, they were a direct catalyst to securing a share of parents’ wallets via impulse triggered purchasing.

There’s a specific psychology behind impulse buying, it disrupts the normal decision-making models in consumers’ brains. The typical and usually logical sequence of a consumer’s actions is replaced with an irrational moment of self-gratification as impulse items generally appeal to the emotional side of consumers. Some items bought on impulse are not considered functional or necessary in the consumers’ lives. Like chocolates at the check-out counter. Although most parents trying to pacify a ranting toddler may argue the sweets are all to necessary to retain their sanity.

For generations, marketers and retailers have capitalised through impulse purchase displays and clever store layouts on the psychology of “I want it now!”.  But thanks to technology and the ‘trade craft’ perfected by marketers over decades of having watched generations of toddler temper tantrums in the impulse isle, the concept of Impulse purchasing is rapidly going mainstream on what can only be described as an industrial scale.

Enter the “micro-moment” – Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to immediately act on a need or want.  The impulse isle is now firmly in the palm of almost every consumer on the planet’s hand. Smart phones and tablet devices have ushered in an era where consumers’ every desire be it – to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something – can be immediately satisfied. These “I want-to-know,” “I want-to-do,” “I want-to-go,” and “I want-to-buy” moments are what Google calls “micro-moments.” (visit https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/micro-moments/ to learn more about Goole’s research into micro-moments)


“When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance and usefulness of marketing more important than ever.”- Joei Chan, author at Mention


We want things right, and we want things right now! Technology has re-awakened the terrible toddler sleeping inside all of our minds. Instant; accurate gratification is an expectation, not a nice to have. The computers caried in our pockets have trained us to expect brands to immediately deliver exactly what we’re looking for, exactly when we’re looking. If the impulse strikes, it must be fulfilled.

Increasingly, our preferences and purchase decisions are being shaped in these micro-moments and brands that do the best job of addressing customers’ needs in each micro-moment, most notably on mobile, will enjoy huge competitive advantages. By being there in these “micro-moments”, your brand has the chance to address consumer needs at the perfect and most precise time to help move customers along their decision journey. The linear sales funnel and accompanying customer journey is being disrupted and along with it the tried and tested idea of needing dedicated content for the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the funnel. Returning to our retail store analogy, store success was reliant on foot traffic, and certain sales reliant on impulse buying. In the digital world impulses trigger buying scenarios, and micro-moments are the equivalent digital footsteps that lead customers to your virtual store. Your Brand must be in the moment with the customer.

Every time a customer needs or wants something, it is an opportunity for you to provide – provide information, provide options, provide a solution and thus be more than just an option but rather to become a trusted partner and an answer to the requirement. Micro-moments are intent-rich windows of opportunity when your audiences want to know or do something; when and where decisions are being made and their preferences shaped.

As marketers start identifying your prospects and customers’ buyer journeys, identify those “micro-moments” that matter most. Where do prospects want to find information about your products or services? Where do they want to learn about what it is you offer? How can you help them in the moment? How can you positively influence or affect those moments? What content can you deliver to engage them in a meaningful way right then and there? While we’re in the moment, if you’re interested in learning more about the current trends, theory and practices powering modern marketing check out our full time marketing course offerings at https://imm.ac.za/academic-qualifications/marketing-qualifications/ or our marketing short course offerings at https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online_courses/marketing-advertising-short-courses/?utm_source=GoogleAds&utm_medium=SearchWithDisplayNetwork&utm_campaign=Brand&gclid=CjwKCAjw_LL2BRAkEiwAv2Y3SW7g_LtYKVJ_r6sWgBLQvm0-L-nGRf8HEAKEsJGJQHXPe95ii828OBoCJPQQAvD_BwE

When all is said and done, it simply comes down to showing your prospects and customers that you can help in their daily lives, not just when they are present in your office, store or on your website, but whenever and wherever they are experiencing that impulsive moment of need. To win in the micro-moments, you must understand your prospects’ intent, provide them with relevant, useful and high-quality information, directly addressing their need and most importantly maximise the ways you can find to be present in the moment.  The strongest brands will capitalize on these micro moments and evolve to match these moments with valuable content.

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