cultivating Micro moments

The rise in adoption of the smartphone over the past decade has seen a fragmentation in consumer buying behavior (most notably with digital native Millennial & Generation Z) but same trend is also seen with the Generation X demographic. With unfettered access to information at all times consumers are now accustomed to turning to a mobile device to access quick, useful information about a place they want to go, a thing they want to do, or a item they want to buy, moving between many devices en route to a purchase decision. The critical touch points within this fragmented consumer journey are the ‘micro moments’. The always connected smartphone and ‘Micro-moments’ have accelerated consumer expectations for “right here, right now” experiences where people are seeking to make more out of their brain breaks and downtime


  • In Effect the consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making micro moments. Understanding and leveraging these critical touch points in the consumer journey, and recognizing the shift to mobile browsing (now exceeds desktop browsing by over 10%) will be crucial for effective digital eCommerce design.

Today there are 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally. By 2020 that figure expected rise to 6.1b (70% of the world’s population; source Ericsson) and smartphones will finally overtake the number of active fixed line subscriptions. In UK, Netherlands, and Germany smartphone penetration amongst adults is ~85%, which is expected to reach 90% by 2020. What does this mean for micro moments; the average mobile session is a mere 1min 10s duration (this has a big impact for page loading times, navigation and friction), that 90% of people are not certain of the brand they want to buy, and that majority of consumers turn to their devices for inspiration and help with purchase decisions presents a big opportunity for brands to be there with the right content and messaging at the tight time.


Social networking and viewing of content (video/photos, messenger, emails, txt) is driving the use of smartphone devices (Millennials [18-34yrs] only use the phone of a smartphone 12% of their time). The most common activities being video (youtube) & social media and messaging; Facebook, Whatsapp, WeChat.

Research by Criteo suggests the heavy social media use and habitual mobile buying are going hand-in-hand; in the UK 35% of daily Facebook users have bought products and services from a mobile, compared to just 17% of non-Facebook users. The biggest mobile buyers are Snapchat (64% have bought on a mobile) and Instagram (56%) users. In general Social media users are 3-4 times more likely to be making purchases from their smartphone.

The millennial generation comprise the largest online audience, and they will have more buying power than any generation ever. Almost 7 in 10 say they are influenced by friends’ social-media posts.


A recent Google research report; “winning the shift to mobile” identified 4 key micro moments:

I want to KNOW - fact finding mode where a consumer is looking for useful information and maybe even inspiration, for examples 2/3rds of users turn to smartphones to learn more information about something that saw on a TV commercial or advertisement.

I want to DO - users want help with getting things done or trying something new. Being there with the right content and messaging is key.

I want to GO - Half of consumers who perform a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day, and 18% of those go on to make a purchase

I want to BUY - user is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what or how to buy. 82% of users consult a smartphone on purchases they make in store, and the vast majority of users who use mobile for research on a product, go on to make a purchase.

Whilst mobile is becoming increasingly important for micro moment browsing, desktops and laptops are still key devices used to research and complete online purchase (use may depends on the persona type and demographic). Moreover, the desktop shopping satisfaction rate is the highest among these channels at 85%.


Understand the micro moments within the consumer journey (and how they differ across personas) and then be there with the right messaging, content, information etc. will be key to improving conversion rates.

Recognizing that mobile will be the primary search/browsing experience and that the most common factors that frustrate mobile users are speed (loading times), convenience (having the right information, content, or features), and trust (knowing what to expect when using the site). Combined With the knowledge that social media and sharing of information is the most common activity for smartphone users; consumers are not always following the conventional website hierarchy of home page > category > Product List Page (PLP) > Product Details Page (PDP); but may be going straight to the Product Details Page from a shared link, search, or recommendation. This means the PDP will potentially have a more important role in the micro moment customer journey and purchase decisions.


Part of the solution to how we can cultivate micro moments is thinking about the consumer journey or experience. A recent report by Rufus Leonard suggests that thinking holistically; looking at the sum total of all the touch-points, consisting of products, services and interactions, will determine whether customers engage, develop loyalty and recommend the brand to others, they called this the Brand Experience Index. Strong brands think “holistically” about the consumer experience; from the emotional effect to the sense of social identity they create among customers.


They Defined 5 facets that make up the brand experience index:

Think; communicate your brand purpose,

Feel; Foster positive associations through emotionally-driven experiences,

Sense: Engage customers through sensory touchpoints,

Do; Facilitate action with seamless experiences,

Connect; Provide a social identity.

The report looked at various well known companies across retail, telecoms, and Airlines. Within the retail sector Ikea scored the highest (and 4th in the BXI table overall) and provides a good example of a brand that is seeking to address all 5 facets.


To really think holistically and leverage the power of the Brand Experience, requires combining data and insights from Market Research with data analytics and UX research/testing. Ideally the UX research should include both cognitive (what users think and do) and emotive/behavioral (how they feel and act) testing. A research project by Kingston University looked at the effect of the emotional impact of premium Brand websites on the users Brand perception. The research looked at premium brands such as Mulberry, John Lewis, Hermes, and tested the users emotional engagement with the website (using psycho-physiological analysis; EEG, EMG, EDA, HR). Findings showed a correlation between the website design and the level of emotional engagement (attention, excitement, flow) compared with the users brand expectation, and impact of a reduced brand perception (and buying intent). Those with a low emotional connection often as result of poor product images, load times, site layout and navigation experience a high negative impact on brand perception.


The importance of emotional engagement is high-lighted in Research from Harvard Business Review HBR, who looked at hundreds of brands in dozens of categories and built a model allowing them to compare the value of making strong emotional connections. They found that customers become more valuable at each step of a predictable “emotional connection pathway” as they transition from being unconnected to being highly satisfied to perceiving brand differentiation and finally to being fully emotionally connected; consumers who are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied. The research suggests the most effective way to maximise customer value is to connect with customers at an emotional level.


HBR uncovered over 300 emotional motivators affecting consumer behavior (surveying anthropological and social science research) identifying 10 that can significantly affect customer value across all categories studied. This can be useful to identify pathways to convert unconnected consumers to being fully connected, and the PDP ability to fulfill the motivation levers is a key part of the creating a significant affect to engage, persuade and motivate the user to take the desired action.


The impact of Emotional Connection for digital eComm design:

Look to create a better sense of consumer well-being and measure up to users expectations with reduce friction in the experience, and reliable, quick user interactions. Thrill and excite users with engaging content and showing how they can stand out from the crowd and feel a sense of belonging and with greater social media interaction. Map the messaging to the person they want to be by providing an experience in synch with their mental model.


The growing adoption of smartphones is changing the way consumers are shopping online. The always on always connected promise of mobile data is fragmenting the customer journey and creating so called 'micro-moments' where the users purchasing decisions can be influenced with having the right content and messaging presented at the right time and in the right way. This will require revisiting the customer journey, taking a more holistic approach by adopting a brand experience, and considering the user engagement for all the digital touch points with a focus on the emotional connection to cultivate the best micro moment experience outcome.


The evolution in performance and capability of the mobile device, faster networks, and AI technology will enable the next frontier of micro moment engagement; adaptive personalisation, where online retailers use machine learning and AI techniques to dynamically customise the shopping experience to match the individuals motivators in the desired context. In the future many consumers will want retailers to provide an environment where shopping is an event experience in its own right. Offering interactive, highly engaging online and real-world retail environments where augmented reality plays a key role, combining micro moment interactions with in-store actions to create a seamless omni-channel experience.





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