FOMO Marketing Strategy: How Does It Make You Feel Left Out? [A Case Study]

FOMO Marketing Strategy: How Does It Make You Feel Left Out? [A Case Study]

Do you ever feel the urge to keep up with the trends that everyone is keeping going on? We are talking about Instagram Reels full of stunning locations that everyone wants to see. Or, the newest product you can't wait to get your hands on, recommended by your favourite influencer.

You may also have experienced that fear when you are taking your exams. Time is running out, and other students are already submitting their answer sheets. And you need to solve the whole other section of the question sheet. The rising fear of stress, urgency, and anxiety is similar to that of catching the train before you miss it.

There is no doubt that the world of the internet has given rise to a large number of slang words. FOMO (fear of missing out) is one such term.

“The potential for simply a different connection. It may be better; it may be worse — we just don't know until we check.”

This quote in the words of John M. Grohol of Psych Central capturing the urgency of FOMO defining social media and Psychological Phenomena sits perfectly with all of us. Let's take a detailed look at how marketers use FOMO marketing strategy.

What Is FOMO From a Marketing Perspective?
The History of FOMO Marketing
How Does Social Media Play a Huge Role in FOMO Marketing?
Types of Techniques Used to Induce FOMO
How Do Top Brands Employ FOMO Marketing?
FOMO on Social Media Platforms
How You Can Employ FOMO Marketing?

What Is FOMO From a Marketing Perspective?

Fear can be a significant motivating factor in cases where the product being sold falls into the category of providing safety. And copywriters have been using this technique for a long time. This appeal works well at evoking the emotion that scares the target audience. Most of these ads end by providing a solution to the threat, leaving the subject relieved, satisfied or happy with the product/ service.

FOMO Marketing Example
FOMO Marketing Example

Now let's look at how FOMO is used from the perspective of marketing. FOMO marketing strategy can be described as offering a limited-time offer to your target audience, informing them that the deal or offer they are seeing is only available for a short time. And when you do so, you create a desire in them to grab the opportunity that is being presented to them. Hence, creating a need for urgency for the buyer. This influences their purchasing behaviour. This will drive sales by using different tactics that we will look at as we go about it.

The History of FOMO Marketing

Ever wondered how did FOMO became a thing all of a sudden and is now everywhere? So, the concept first sprung up in the year 2000 in an academic paper and became more popular as time went by. And now it's literally ruling the world of digital media, from e-commerce websites to social media platforms.

Dr Dan Herman - the Journal of Brand Management

Results and research have shown that 70% of adults suffer from the feeling of fear of missing out. The concept was founded by a marketing strategist named Dr Dan Herman while Dan was conducting research in 1996. Adam Balouch's Academic paper for the Journal of Brand Management was published in the year 2000. Here's how the concept first developed, anyway.

McGinnis Coining of the concepts of FOMO and FOBO

Research and studies indicate FOMO actually emerged and became popular from Patrick McGinnis at Harvard Business School in 2004. When McGinnis himself did not know that he had introduced the concept.

McGinnis and his class gave their GMAT in New York a day before 9/11 after experiencing that McGinnis described how he felt, in his words

“You felt the need to do everything all the time because you realized your mortality.”

This meant that the class dealt with the feeling of treating every moment as an opportunity to acquire essential experience.

Dealing with these feelings, the group, along with McGinnis, gave this anxiety a name: Fear of a Better Option, or FOBO. Wrote about two conditions, FOBO and FOMO, in his op-ed: McGinnis Two FOs - Social Theory of HBA that he wrote while getting his MBA.

How Does Social Media Play a Huge Role in FOMO Marketing?

Social media has its perks that help you stay connected with the world. It has changed the dynamics of marketers. As well as with its ability to stay up-to-date with everything and everyone. There is a negative side to it. You can keep your friends updated within seconds about where you are heading, what you are doing, who you are with, your achievements, your adventures, almost everything, period.

When you are scrolling and watching all this as an audience or as viewers. And there you have the dreadful fear of missing out on all that the other person is doing. There is an overwhelming feeling of tension and anxiety. And the urge to do everything at once. Be at two different places at a time, jump on to the trends, try out the products that everyone is talking about, learn about NFTs, stocks, and the list never ends.

FOMO Social Media
FOMO Social Media

You can be crushed by FOMO on social media. Furthermore, social media platforms have influencers and business accounts as well as features that can help to market your product/service.

Social media can be exclusive, integrated with social proof, create scarcity, and can also create the need for urgency. And every day, with updated features rolling in that make your audiences want to try and catch up with everything. This makes it the right platform for marketers to use FOMO. Another aspect of digital marketing is e-commerce which uses FOMO in its marketing strategies.

FOMO is everywhere credits go to social media. Social media comes with the expectation of constantly updating your audience about the most recent version of yourself. What are you doing right now? The other trending thing brands are trying is doing Q&A (questions and answers) sessions. Customized and personalized videos are delivered to you on social media by brands, who collect your data with the help of algorithms to target you.

In the world of social media, where everything is tracked and updated. We tend to believe that we are not living our happiest lives. And there comes the fear of missing out on things. One thing we often forget is that social media only shows the rosiest parts about others and creates unrealistic standards that we cannot live up to.

Social media Influencer
Social media Influencer

Plus, points go to various trends, influencers, and viral content on social media. Making every day a video or a photograph becomes viral. This creates a buzz around it. Algorithms make it easy to send user-generated content that is relevant to your audience. Which enables the strategy of FOMO marketing to be easily integrated with social media marketing. Not only this, a good deal of e-commerce-based websites and apps are integrating FOMO into their marketing strategies using the pull strategy.

Types of Techniques Used to Induce FOMO

Countdown with the timers

Ever been to a website, and you can literally see a timer ringing off or a clock ticking? That screams at your face that if you did not make that purchase right now, it would be lost in the oblivion of the horizon forever? These may feel like ticking time bombs, which heightens your anxiety.

FOMO Technique employed by Amazon
FOMO Technique employed by Amazon

That is just one of the tricks marketers employ to let you know what you are missing out on and drive their sales up. Customers know there is a deadline approaching, so they feel under pressure to make a decision and be quick about it, making marketing easier.

Time-limited editions, short-term offers and sales

You may have noticed brands sending you notifications with messages that immediately grab your attention. And other limited-time offers, such as free shipping for a limited time, cause FOMO.

  • Hurry up and get 50% off!
  • Buy now!
  • Don't miss the opportunity!
  • Grab now!

You do not want to miss the deal while it lasts. Results show that shoppers are more likely to buy things when they are offered free shipping. Offers make the consumer feel special. Limited-time editions, sales, and offers are just some examples of setting a deadline that results in impulse buying.

Influencers and Celebrities

Influencers are a big part of the marketing industry today, and there's no denying the fact. Actors, cricketers, models, or even people who have a huge following fan base who have made it big with the work they do.

They endorse the products of multiple brands that they partner or collaborate with. People love to keep up with every move their favourite influencers make. These influencers have an upper hand in adding credibility to your brand as they have gained their audience's trust already.

The followers closely follow the lifestyles of these influencers and consider them their idols. They are prepared to great lengths and may even bring products that are endorsed by them. They feel a sense of urgency to use the same product as their idols.


Apart from that, influencers already have that established connection of trust, which helps your brand. These influencers or celebrities could also be quoted in various mediums where you advertise your products/services.

Stock scarcity

Hurry, only three left in stock. You might have read this on the websites, apps, or e-commerce websites that you are shopping from. You are compelled to take action rather than risk losing what you are buying to another person. Creating that urgency drives up sales. Apart from showing stock scarcity, some companies also send a message of "Hurry selling fast" which also works for creating FOMO.

Gated content

As human beings, we love to be a part of groups. We are social beings and long for company. We do not want to feel left out of experiencing new things. Especially when we get to be a part of an exclusive group or an experience that is not accessible to others.

Brands build offers that can only be accessible to a limited number of people. This might also include subscriptions or anything more premium. In this way, even gated content can be used in FOMO marketing.

Reviews, social proofs and testimonials

What's the one thing you do when you buy anything online? Fear is always present, starting with all the questions that begin with what-ifs? But as you scroll down, you are relieved to find those five-star ratings and the reviews that give you an insight into how the experience of other customers who actually tried the product/ service was.

We value other people's opinions and if they are convincing enough that would be enough to persuade a consumer to buy it. Social proof plays an important role, as consumers always want to know what others say about your brand.

Reviews and testimonials play a major role in triggering FOMO because once you see how many people are using it. All the others doing the same thing will actually want to try the product/ service for themselves.

Early bird discounts

This includes giving offers and discounts on what is being sold. Early bird discounts work very well for events when you intend to sell out the tickets. This is because people don't want to miss out on the deal you are offering. They are aware that the discount has a deadline and might purchase what you are offering.

Even if they really did not intend to be there in the first place. Early bird discounts can be given as special benefits to your subscribers or the members, the first twenty registrants, or for the first week of your product launch. Anyway, a deadline should be followed. It is critical for the audience to know that an expiration date is being followed in order to create a sense of urgency.

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How Do Top Brands Employ FOMO Marketing?

Samsung's - NOMO FOMO (2021)

Hassan Minhaj the stand-up comedian who is famous for his Netflix show “The Patriot Act” featured in Samsung and Verizon's campaign made by Ogilvy, New York whose title was actually "NOMO FOMO '' for the product Galaxy Z Fold 3.

The ultimate message that the campaign gives, all the while talking about the features of the newly released smartphone, is that with Samsung's new Galaxy Z Fold 3 on Verizon's 5G Ultra-Wideband, one never has to worry about FOMO.

They used the feeling of FOMO to their advantage, building their campaign around this idea, with equally creative visuals and script around this campaign based on emotional appeal.

Spotify Wrapped (2015)

The year is drawing to a close. You are scrolling through Instagram stories. Every other story you open is about someone's Spotify Wrapped playlist and there is no way out. FOMO is unavoidable. Brands know this and use this knowledge to make people want to be invited to the party.

That is how Spotify Wrapped works. The wrap is a year review experience broken up into two parts, a cultural brand campaign and a digital experience. This allows users to see how and what they listen to throughout the year.

Not only does Spotify create a personalized playlist of each user's most listened to songs of the year. It also generates a tailored streaming report for users to share on social media.

When the campaign launched for its fourth year at the end of 2019, Spotify told Forbes more than 60 million users engaged with the in-app store experience that racked up nearly 3 billion streams from racked playlists, and the trendy personalized graphics make engaging posts for anyone with a Spotify subscription. Spotify's users become unpaid influencers for the brand, posting their reviews on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat to show off their tastes and music.

Artists also shared their streaming reviews to celebrate their achievements of the year. So, for all the people that do not have Spotify, this campaign is intended to make them sign up for the streaming service. As the post-flood campaign engulfs social media channels, billboards, wallpaper, city skylines, and public transportation terminals, it is inescapable in real life. June Sauvaget, global head of consumer and product marketing at Spotify with the 2020-wrapped campaign, said it inherently entices new users to consider Spotify.

With apps like Spotify with its personalized graphics, content and playlist that is specifically tailored for one integrated with AI (artificial intelligence) we as a generation should be prepared for another bout of virtual FOMO.


The Ajio shopping app by Reliance Retail Ltd. has promotions, sales, and offers that can be found all year round. There are sales, customers are made to feel special by giving them discounts on their first purchase.

Limited-time offers and sales, especially during the holiday season, not to mention the Ajio mania sale, free shipping over a minimum purchase amount and coupon codes. Ajio has been using the FOMO marketing strategy for a long time now.


Amazon is a very well-known platform for many things including digital platforms, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and e-commerce.

To get more benefits and advantages, Amazon offers prime membership for an exclusive group of users. Amazon also uses the scarcity appeal, showing messages like “Hurry, only 1 left” as the products left in the inventory decrease. Deal of the day with free shipping, which gives the brand an edge over the company.


The C2C American multinational e-commerce corporation based in San Jose, California used the countdown timers to make shopping with other bidders more exciting and add a spirit of competition to it. Countdowns involving timers can be efficient in creating the need for urgency. eBay also shows reviews and the number of sales for a particular product.

FOMO on Social Media Platforms

Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other social media platforms also induce the fear of missing out.

Did you watch that video? Do you know this song? This is the latest trend, let's make a video on this! These are just a few phrases that you might have heard your friends say. You can't visit without social media platforms scrolling through the reels section without watching the Yo-bro who got you smiling like that, I don't know who needs to hear this or Get ready with me kind of videos. There is updated music trending every other week. There is a constant fear of missing out among the people. The latest would-be Kaccha Badam.

When the audience sees what is trending, they automatically want to be a part of what is buzzing around. They jump into trying the new set of dance moves that everyone is grooving to, applying the same transitions as others, and overall being a part of the trend.


Another research from the New York Times suggests, that not participating in the making of TikTok videos makes teenagers feel excluded. Raising the feelings of social exclusion, especially for Gen X and Gen Z, TikTok is a platform that has made it possible for many videos to become viral and influential. Cultural conversations, even for people who do not use it. The platform has 1 billion monthly active users and it is one of the most engaging social media apps.


Twitter is an absolute trendsetter. You immediately come to know what's going on around you just based on the hashtags that show up on your search button. Trending, each with different subcategories of their own. Twitter has blown people away, inducing them with FOMO for concert tickets for Glastonbury festival, Arctic Monkeys, Supreme’s release of their line of clothing, the biggest Alton Towers scare-fest that is held in the UK for Halloween and Universal Orlando's Horror nights. Grabbing people's attention with hashtags as they increase anticipation, exclusivity, and curiosity.

How You Can Employ FOMO Marketing?

Various FOMO marketing techniques you can employ,

  • Incorporate timers or a countdown clock showing the time running out, urging you to grab on to the opportunity.
  • Give them limited time offers on products or shipping.
  • Have customer reviews on your page to let people know how many have tried your products and loved them. Testimonials play a significant role in building trust and inducing FOMO.
  • Show the live count for the number of people viewing the current product that is being sold.
  • Bring in influencers, and quote them on your website for social proof.
  • Send push notifications and emails to let your customers know that there is an opportunity being offered that they cannot miss.
  • Set a time limit. Let the customers know that the deal you are offering comes with an expiration date.
  • Use early bird discounts.
  • Make use of social media platforms for marketing purposes. Have giveaways or contests, create a buzz around something with messages like stay tuned for the big reveal. Get your message across to catch your audience's attention and keep them engaged.
  • Make the content of your product exclusive. It might only be available to members or to subscribers.
  • Make use of the competitive spirit and highlight opportunities that your audience might have missed before. Remind them not to make the same mistake again. This leads to impulse buying.
  • Offer discounts, limited editions, short term or any other special offers.
  • Give out promo codes that expire after a limited time.

Take a look at the following messages and try to incorporate them into your marketing strategies to awaken FOMO.

  • Selling fast!
  • Hurry only 1 left conveying low stock
  • Free shipping over orders of 999
  • 15% off on everything
  • Clearance sale!
  • Deal of the day or deal of the week
  • Buy Now! Using the word Now works like magic every time.
  • Flat 50% off on selected

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Remember FOMO just does not work like that context is just as relevant as context. Keep an eye on your message, let it be catchy and alarming, and create a sense of urgency. Make them wait and create suspense around your campaigns. When people do get curious, they will look out for the big reveal.


What does FOMO mean in marketing?

FOMO means fear of missing out it is a popular technique used by marketers and brands to induce a fear to buy a particular product before it goes out of stock and you regret it.

How does FOMO help marketing?

FOMO marketing helps businesses sell more products as it persuades buyers to buy a particular product quickly.

What are some examples of FOMO?

Stock left, Countdown timer, Early Bird Discount, Gated Content, and Missed Opportunities are some examples of FOMO.

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