Moments of Truth – How Adhesives Can Impact Consumer Choice

Posted on 10/15/2014 1:32:48 PM By Rick Krause

What makes a consumer buy a product?  As you can imagine, a tremendous amount of energy has been invested by marketers, behavioral psychologists, consumer product good companies (CPGs), design houses, advertisers, merchandisers, retailers and packagers to learn just that.  With US consumer spending exceeding $10 TRILLION per year, getting a customer to buy your product instead of the competitors’ is obviously big business.  Getting a customer to buy your product again and again is even bigger business and depends upon consumer “Moments of Truth” in their purchase decision making.

Introduced by the CEO of Proctor & Gamble, the concept of the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) is what a consumer sees and thinks when they see your product (and its packaging) on the store shelf.  Converting shoppers into customers has been the traditional focus of CPGs and marketers.

The Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) is what a consumer senses (yes, all five senses) and experiences when they use the product over time.  This experience often dictates whether or not a consumer will become a repeat customer.

Within the packaging industry, the Third Moment of Truth (TMOT) has often been used to describe what a consumer feels and thinks relative to the product’s end-of-life sustainability impact (e.g. recyclability, re-usability, biodegradability).

Popularized in recent years by Google is the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) as consumers utilize online devices (laptop, smartphone) to digest digital marketing, social media, or consumer ratings to begin learning about products or services that they might want to buy (before even entering an online or brick-and-mortar store).

You don’t have to think long before recognizing how one or more moments of truth impact consumer behavior or the success of a new product introduction.  Think of the “feel happy” advertising done by Coca-Cola.  Think of how the “noisy bag” dissuaded consumers from embracing the compostable Sun Chip bag introduced by Frito-Lay.  Think of the popularity of Starbuck’s coffee shop experience.

So how does packaging (and the adhesives used) impact these consumer Moments of Truth?

Package design and graphics clearly play a big role in the First Moment of Truth.  The popularity of see-through labels and see-through packaging are great examples enabled by the availability of clear and transparent pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) for labels and laminating adhesives for flexible packaging.  To the extent that functionality (e.g. re-closeability, re-sealability) can be promoted on-the-shelf, adhesives used in these applications may also positively influence a purchase decision.

If packaging is difficult to use, it can negatively impact the Second Moment of Truth.  Adhesives must perform to ensure shelf-life and package integrity, but otherwise must remain innocuous (odorless, tasteless, invisible, etc).  A failed lamination, a curling label, a package that does not hold up to typical usage conditions can result in a poor consumer perception and reduce the likelihood of a repeat purchase.  Similarly, improved functionality (e.g. re-sealability) may become a point of differentiation to improve the likelihood of a repeat purchase.

With respect to sustainability and the Third Moment of Truth, a “do no harm” and an “improved sustainability” approach in design will continue to take on increasing importance, subject to consumer perceptions of packaging sustainability.  Ensuring that adhesives do not negatively impact recyclability, re-usability, compostability, and bio-degradability has already become a critical performance requirement in many applications.  Increasing bio-renewable content, enabling source reduction and enabling more sustainable package design will drive the growth of adhesives in those applications.

While adhesives in and of themselves are unlikely to dictate all of the Moments of Truth, as part of a packaging design and system, they can certainly have an impact on consumer choice.

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