Aperture: Finding the Nudge Points

What's your aperture moment? Over the past months we've explored consumer aperture moments -- the windows in which people are most receptive to receiving your message. Sometimes the best way to explore the value and application of a concept is to put it within the context of our own life experience.

With holidays approaching, let's face it: We're all going to gain a few extra pounds. So when is the best time for low-fat food products or diet programs to really motivate us to lose that weight? We all know that the best time to start a diet is on Monday -- after one final weekend to indulge and wolf down that last pint of ice cream. The best time to engage and motivate us is with a message during those preceding couple of days, when we're preparing to sever our relationship with Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream.

We are most open to these messages early in the next week, when we just can't eat any more rabbit food. Just like the "note on the fridge," these dieting messages have to find us where and when we need it most, at the "points of nudge" -- those times and places where cookies and other snacking goodies can derail our best dieting intentions. In-store messaging guiding our way, gentle reminders in the mail, and late-night television catching us before we lose control can possibly make this the diet we will finally stick with.

Real-life needs lead to real-life opportunities for real-time consumer connections. Going beyond our own "points of nudge," the further we dig into consumers' behavior, the closer we get to uncovering their best aperture moments.

Sometimes the aperture moments are hard to uncover and address. For example, when are the best times to reach young moms with a snack food message? Well, as we know, it's not about reaching Mom, but about understanding and uncovering resonant aperture moments for true message receptivity.

Moms are some of the busiest managers today. While we can certainly identify where they are and what media are available to them throughout the day, our research tells us that finding moms' "opt-in" messaging moments is as difficult as threading a needle. Why? Moms told us that they have many and likely more compelling things to do during their day than pay attention to advertising. They have even less time for advertising placed around snack time, when they are personally engaged in handing out juice boxes and pudding cups. It's a Catch-22: When moms are connecting with their kids, they're more likely to be out of touch with traditional brand messaging. Their aperture moments are finite and specific, so we must be highly strategic in our messaging choices so as not to miss this narrow window of opportunity.

A mother's limited time with advertising is not our only challenge. Deeply concerned about her kids' health, she's become a pro at reading labels and looking for words like "100 percent natural" and "no added sugar." But she also wants her kids to enjoy the snacks she gives them, so fun enters into the picture. For these moms, it's all about creating a healthy balance between cookies and celery sticks, juice and soda. Most mass media options don't fit that bill, so we would recommend creating media opportunities to meet her aperture requirements. Events and locations that are fun for her and her kids, with on-site and in-store opportunities for product trial, can lend themselves to lighthearted and tasty nutrition education for everyone.

Our real lives challenge us every day: Is this the right moment to ask for a raise? Have I saved enough to buy that engagement ring? Am I ready to start that college savings plan? Do I really need that pair of black boots? We all live in the world as consumers, and while we might be media-savvy professionals, our own aperture moments allow advertising in when we are willing and ready to receive it. Think about it: "Hi, what's your aperture moment?" might just be the next great conversation starter -- for you and your consumer.

Steve Farella, president-CEO, and Audrey Siegel, executive vice president and director of client services, are co-founders of TargetCast TCM. (

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