Reports

Feeling of Missing Out (FOMO) and Its Marketing Implications

Ceren Hayran, Lalin Anik, and Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, 2016, 16-131

Ceren Hayran, Lalin Anik, and Zeynep Gürhan-Canli investigate the popular concept of “FOMO”--the feeling of missing out on desirable experiences in one’s environment that one is aware of but doesn’t partake in. Despite extensive managerial press and growing media interest in FOMO, there has been limited research on its conceptualization and consequences.

In seven online, laboratory, and field studies, they explore when and how FOMO occurs, how it is different from other affective states, and its consequences for consumer behavior. Their results demonstrate that FOMO is driven by the awareness of favorable and self-relevant experiences taking place in one’s environment. Contrary to extant work, their findings reveal that the popularity of unpursued activities among majorities (e.g., Facebook “likes” or Twitter trending topics) does not induce FOMO unless the unattended activities are personally relevant and favorable.

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Leveraging FOMO to win and keep customers

Their results also show that experiencing FOMO decreases intentions to repeat a current experience (i.e., redo/revisit intentions) and may decrease the valuation of and recommendation intentions for the current experience, and thus, may represent a threat to consumer loyalty. Importantly, they show that FOMO may even be experienced during highly enjoyable experiences (e.g., a fun social event), in the absence of negative feelings.

Hayran, Anik, and Gürhan-Canli suggest several strategies for leveraging FOMO either by fostering it or by helping consumers fight it.

To foster FOMO, it is important to catch consumers on the go (e.g., send restaurant deals when consumers are dining at a competitor), and to react in real time to FOMO-inducing experiences (e.g., music festivals) with targeted and personalized messages. Marketers can also use content marketing to make consumers feel like they are at a disadvantage without being involved with a product, brand, or an experience.

To fight FOMO, it is important to build active and engaging relationships with customers to prevent their switching intentions as a result of experiencing FOMO (e.g., provide on-the-spot reward program offers to encourage repeat purchase behavior), to proactively inform consumers about events or marketing deals (e.g., through mobile applications), and to use marketing communication tools that will decrease consumers’ FOMO by motivating them to focus on their current experiences.

Ceren Hayran is a doctoral candidate in marketing at Koç University, Graduate School of Business, Turkey. Lalin Anik is Assistant Professor of Marketing at University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. Zeynep Gürhan-Canli is Migros Professor of Marketing at Koç University, Graduate School of Business, Turkey.

Acknowledgments
The authors thank the Marketing Science Institute, Dan Ariely, and the Center for Advanced Hindsight for their valuable contributions and financial support.

Related links

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