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Take It From A Millennial // FOMO Marketing

10 August 2017

This week on Take It From A Millennial, we are exploring the most abstract concept yet: FOMO Marketing.

What is FOMO?

For those of you that hibernated through the last five years, FOMO is an acronym that stands for the Fear Of Missing Out. This fear is one that plagues the millennial generation as a whole, and actually keeps us up at night. It’s a fear greater than sharks, serial killers, and even spiders. Yes, spiders. Conceptually, it’s the feeling of anxiety that something exciting may be happening in your absence.


Put yourself in our shoes. Let’s say you are about 24. You know you have to work the next morning at 7 a.m. and you feel a cold coming on. You know you should stay home. Yet, all of your friends are at happy hour and they’re texting you to come to the bar. You open snapchat and see that Johnny has had one too many and is already making snap-worthy jokes. You open Instagram and see an image of your entire squad laughing with margaritas in hand. Suddenly, you get a notification that Sarah has gone live on Facebook and is taping Macie’s iconic karaoke performance. You’re out the door and at the bar before Macie can finish her song. You have just experienced FOMO.

Still, you are far from being alone. According to a study conducted by Eventbrite, 69% of millennials regularly experience FOMO. It is a phenomenon that goes beyond our differences, and beyond our struggles. FOMO is for all.

How is FOMO related to marketing?

Now that we have established the immense potency of FOMO, let’s take a closer look at the implications it could have on marketing your brand. So far, we understand that FOMO is associated to missing out on something. So, what if we take that something and turn it into your brand, product, or service? What if we make millennials fear missing out on what you have to offer? Well, I can only imagine one scenario, and it looks good.

mo fomo

But, let’s take this back for a minute. The term “FOMO” was actually first coined by none other than marketing strategist Dan Herman. Yup. A marketer. This means that although the term is frequently used as slang by millennials all over, it was originally made with the purpose of generating profits.

However, as great as this all sounds on paper, we need specifics. We can’t just sit around and hope that millennials will fear missing out on your brand. We need strategy.

What strategies can we use to participate in FOMO marketing?

There are several tactics your brand can use to spark FOMO within your target audience. The following are five strategies that will make millennials fear missing out on you:

1. Encourage social proof

As consumers, we are way more likely to trust and replicate our friends opinions and experiences than to pay any attention to what ads or brands communicate to us. Social proof allows us to be influenced by what our friends post on social media.

As a brand, you should do everything in your power to boost engagement and incentivize your customers to create social proof for your brand on social media. You must make us want to say “everyone else is doing it” when it comes to your product or service.


If you have a location or several locations, create a photo spot that gives customers an opportunity to create content for social media. You can also geo-fence your business, and allow consumers to “prove” that they were at your business with a geo tag. And of course, imprint your hashtag of choice in your consumers’ minds. Make them not only remember it, but share it at all costs.

2. Create scarcity

When it comes to creating scarcity, there are two things you can make scarce. First off, you can limit the quantity of a product in order to spark a sense of urgency from millennials. If you are only offering 200 limited-edition t-shirts, the FOMO will rise and your 200 t-shirts will fly quicker than you can say “fear of missing out.” People are truly afraid of what they can’t have.


The other option you have when it comes to scarcity is limiting time. You can create looming deadlines in order to have millennials crawling with FOMO. Offers such as once-in-a-lifetime deals or flash sales will allow you to experience an influx of customers that are afraid of missing out on the best prices. Nevertheless, scarcity does not work without communication efforts. Make sure your audience is aware of these limited-time offers.

3. Focus on the experience over the product

According to CNBC, millennials are now valuing experiences more than they value things. This change in priorities results in marketers having to change their communication tactics to show us the benefits of the experience their brand provides, rather than the material thing that will be piled up on top of all the other stuff we own.

Let’s say your brand sells something simple like chocolate. Rather than focusing on the actual product by advertising the richness of the chocolate or the almonds on the inside, focus on the experience that the chocolate will bring. Tell us how it will change our lives. Tell us that it will make us enjoy our days more, and feel happiness and pleasure when we eat it. Make us have FOMO about the experience your product will give us.


You can also create real-life experiences for your consumers, such as seasonal events or new product launches. These experiences will give your customers the opportunity to not only participate in FOMO, but also boost social proof and exclusivity.

4. Establish exclusivity

If there’s one thing that can keep a consumer from relieving FOMO, it’s exclusivity. Exclusivity only allows certain people in, so regardless of how much FOMO you feel, if you don’t fit the exclusive requirements, you can’t participate or purchase the exclusive brand, product, or service.


Exclusivity works in several different ways. First off, your brand can be entirely exclusive. For example, when Pinterest was first launched, the only way to create an account was through an invite by a person that already had an account. This exclusivity made just about everyone crave a Pinterest account and popularity for the new social media platform skyrocket.

Another way to leverage exclusivity is by creating loyalty programs or membership rewards. This not only triggers consumers to keep coming back to your brand, but it also makes them want to reach the exclusive top member title or reach the highest discounts possible. You can also pair exclusivity with events and invite specific loyal customers to certain launches or seasonal parties in order to increase FOMO, and drive sales as a result.

5. Trigger loss aversion

Loss aversion is a principle covered in human psychology that comes from the prospect theory. Simply, it means that people rather avoid a loss than have a chance at a gain. The truth of the matter is that losses hurt more than gains feel good. Therefore, you can utilize consumer loss aversion in your ads to raise profits.


In order to use loss aversion to your advantage, you have to tweak your communications in order to make people ask what if? You have to make millennials afraid of not having purchased your product and lost. Instead of telling us what your product is, tell us what we are missing out on.

Insurance companies often do so by inspiring true fear in consumers. What if you get into an accident? What if you get sick? Still, this tactic can also be used in a positive manner. For example, travel agencies can also ask what if questions. What if you took off to Europe? What if you left your worries behind an hopped on a cruise for a week? This FOMO is triggered by loss aversion and makes us move.

Final thoughts?

After all that, it’s easy to see that FOMO works when marketing to millennials. We are so afraid to miss out that using the aforementioned strategies does not go unrewarded. Try using FOMO in your next marketing campaign and watch as fear becomes nothing short of action.




Written by: Micaela Valderrama

August 11, 2017

Compass Marketing & Consulting