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  • Writer's pictureYogesh Jain

Fear Of Missing Out: Using FOMO and Anti-FOMO in Marketing

Updated: Mar 28

It is in our human nature to “be in the know” of everything around us. This helps us look special and smart. When we feel we are missing out on trends and benefits, we suffer through the FOMO, i.e. ‘Fear of Missing Out’. As marketers, this presents an opportunity to leverage the fear of the audience to get them to purchase. This is not even new advice. For years, marketers and sales reps have been using limited-time offers, flash sales, and discounts to make a sale. In this blog, I will give you some unexpected insights into this technique to help you better understand your customer’s psychology.

The Power of FOMO:

Though the word FOMO was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, the concept has existed for a long time. In the early ages, not being updated about new food and water sources could mean the difference between the life and death of a person. Over the years, this fear has been hard-wired in our brains. Now, in the digital age, we fear missing out on trends, ideas, goodies, etc. In fact, a major factor backing the popularity of social media is our fear of missing out on the latest updates. According to

research by MyLife, 56 percent of social media users are afraid of missing information like an event, news, or an important status update if they don’t remain active on social networks.

5 Ways to Leverage FOMO in Marketing Campaigns:

Ask yourself, how many times have you been hooked due to a limited-time offer. This phenomenon is effective because it works. Here are some techniques that you, as marketers, can use to create a FOMO effect:

fomo in marketing

1. Flash Sales:

Flash sales are the most common example of a FOMO campaign. A flash sale naturally creates urgency because of limited stock and/or limited time frame. This creates a sense of scarcity of the product and boosts the conversions. It is commonly used by retailers both online and offline. For example, end-of-season sales, Black Friday sales, festival offers, etc.

2. Events:

Event organizers capitalize on FOMO by limiting the number of seats available, providing exclusive seats, and banking on the natural essence of any event, i.e. the limited time available to buy tickets. These events are not only limited to music shows or conferences. Now businesses are marketing webinars and podcasts, just like an event to gain an instant audience.

3. User-Generated Content:

User-generated content is a content marketing practice where you leverage your users to create content for your brand. In exchange for content, you can offer them social recognition or rewards. This approach works effectively when you have many people engaging in a UGC campaign. It has become a trend. Since many users avail the benefits, it creates a FOMO effect among people who don’t take part.

4. Strong Social Media Presence:

When you have a highly engaged audience on any social media platform, people from a similar interest group follow you as well. The people with interests like that of your audience experience a fear of missing out if they don't follow you. Hence, a strong social media presence helps you increase the size of your audience.

5. Loyalty Rewards:

Loyalty programs are used to ensure the long-term retention of customers. By giving timely rewards to existing customers and occasional surprises, you create a FOMO effect among people who are not your customers. Thus, the fear of missing out on freebies brings in more and more people under your loyalty scheme.

Is Anti-FOMO the new FOMO?

While the idea of instilling fear and increasing sales sounds interesting, it is not as good as it sounds. An MSI research by Ceren Hayran, Lalin Anik, and Zeynep Gürhan-Canli suggests that FOMO is not something we should be completely banking on. A customer is less likely to share the experience of a purchase made in this fear. They might choose not to repeat their purchases either. This means that fostering FOMO is not the best marketing approach, especially when you want to improve the customer experience. Hence, marketers are better off with Anti-FOMO alternatives like:

  1. Fighting FOMO: In this, you help the users pacify FOMO by acting as knowledge sharers. It includes techniques like content curation to let them stay in the know.

  2. Flipping FOMO: In this strategy, brands take a step ahead from pacifying FOMO to wiping it off completely. This involves educating the customers about avoiding fear. Campaigns like Digital Detox by Camp Grounded and REI’s #OptOutside (Watch the video) have gained massive media coverage from their Anti-FOMO initiatives. Even Randi Zuckerberg, the former CMO of Facebook, supported digital detox in her top 10 social media trends, arguing, “We own our devices, they don’t own us.” From all these research insights and expert opinions, it is obvious that helping customers get rid of their fear of missing out is the right marketing approach. Interestingly, marketers are keen on the creative uses of this. With us, marketers (especially growth hackers) going geeky about every new technique we hear about, the only question is - Will using Anti-FOMO become the new FOMO among the markers?

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