5 Ways Marketers Can Successfully Leverage FOMO Amongst Millennials

A fear of missing out impacts all consumers' decisions

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Successful marketing is simply about understanding human behavior. This includes the way consumers think, how they learn and what propels them to make a decision. Applying psychology to marketing campaigns is central to measurable success. If you have ever made a purchase due to social pressure, fear of not getting a deal or discontent around possibly missing out on a shared experience, you know exactly what it feels like to be incentivized by the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Although FOMO impacts decision-making for everyone, it’s especially prevalent among millennials, who are moving into their prime spending years and disrupting the way purchases (both physical and experiential) are made. Eventbrite, a global event ticketing company, found in its Millennials: Fueling the Experience Economy study that “FOMO drives millennials’ experiential appetite: Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) millennials experience FOMO.” This is fueled by the fact these digital natives share their experiences across social media channels as a form of mass communication, value events and memories more than “stuff” and prioritize social gatherings in their schedules.

So how does all of this apply to marketing? Here are some tips on how to create FOMO digitally to accelerate results from your marketing initiatives.

Show demand

Because FOMO is driven primarily by social pressure, demonstrating demand compounds the pressure to purchase. Hotels.com does an excellent job using this principle further along in the buyer’s journey. When visitors view individual properties, a popup window in the bottom right corner of the screen states how many people have viewed a property that day—and sometimes even for the exact overnight dates the consumer is seeking. This digital reminder showcases interest and demand for the experience that website visitor is considering.

What has worked in the past won’t be effective for this generation of consumers with unique values and perspective on life.

Create exclusivity

The success of friends and family sales are the result of exclusivity, as are campaigns that leverage email tactics such as “sign up here to be the first to know about [new product/service].” Rewards cards with special perks or private “product testing” clubs cultivate a sense of exclusivity. Those who experience FOMO don’t want their peers sharing the latest and greatest products and experiences on social media before they do, so making something feel “special” is essential. Google capitalized on this principle when rolling out Gmail in 2004 with an “invite only” model initially, which quickly made it exclusive, intriguing and valuable.

Cultivate competition

Fear of missing out is closely linked to fear of not being “the best.” Marketing that taps into peer competition can be especially effective for millennials. Under Armour uses banners on its homepage that include competitive phrases such as “Be strong: Compression hugs your body for extra motivation” and “We’ll keep building the gear. You’ll keep getting better” to cultivate this sense of competition and remind its audience that its products promote athletic excellence and give consumers an edge.

Create social pressure

Millennials regularly broadcast their accomplishments to their peer networks, and there is consistent social pressure to cultivate meaningful experiences among consumers in this generation. Social pressure in marketing often builds upon this fear of missing out by pointing out that “everyone else is doing it.” For a B2B example, take HubSpot, which effectively uses this principle on its homepage, citing “44,500 customers in over 90 countries growing their businesses with HubSpot” and asking for your blog subscription with the following copy: “Join our community of over 300,000 marketers and business owners and subscribe to HubSpot’s Marketing Blog to receive great marketing content delivered right to your inbox.” Visitors feel socially compelled to join in the collective success when they consider being a part of the HubSpot community and fear that they might miss out on potential benefits of HubSpot if they don’t.

Bring it to life

Linking these important psychological principles to marketing tactics is an essential step to using FOMO effectively in your marketing, and there are several ways to leverage these human tendencies to meet your business goals. Popups, slide-ins and exit intent offers with copy that creates FOMO facilitate action from your audience. In-app communication that demands the attention of your audience in key micromoments along the path to purchase brings these principles to life. Using expiration dates can motivate action, as can incentives such as a bonus product or free shipping at a certain price threshold.

Millennials have disrupted marketing and business as we know it, and their impact will become even more prevalent as they dominate consumer spending over the next several decades. What has worked in the past won’t be effective for this generation of consumers with unique values and perspective on life. Knowing that FOMO is a core experience in the lives of millennials and applying this psychology in key ways will not only give you an edge over your competition but will also help your target market feel connected long-term to both your brand and its purchases.