Is FOMO Over? An Event Marketer's Guide to the Fear of Missing Out

By Samantha Stallard, Director of Marketing & Business Development

When we speak of FOMO (the fear of missing out) we are almost undoubtedly speaking about Millennials. As a Millennial myself, I won't get into a diatribe defending those who entered the workforce during one of the largest recessions in our country's history (though the urge to go on a tirade is very real). Marketers' love the acronym and use it to their advantage in sales material and social media content, especially for the promotion of a brand experience or event.


However, the biggest problem marketers, especially event marketers, face is the undisputed reality that the largest consumer generation has replaced FOMO with JOMO, aka the Joy of Missing Out. Millennials aren't spending as much time and money at bars, restaurants, or nightclubs as Gen X and Baby Boomers did at similar ages. And the US nightlife industry is suffering because of it. In fact, more than 10,000 bars have shut down in the past decade.

What are Millennials doing instead? Many are participating in alcohol-free events like fun runs and hitting the local farmers markets. When they do drink, they frequent bars featuring board games, bowling alleys, and shuffleboard. Plenty of others simply aren’t leaving the house — binging on Netflix and learning to cook through services like Blue Apron and Plated.

Based on the consumer trends to stay home, recharge, and save money, your event guests are expecting more than just a typical party. Even though FOMO is becoming an increasingly difficult tactic to sell out an event, the fear of missing out on an important cultural moment can still drive participation for your brand.

Here are four ways you can put the guest experience first at your next event, enticing consumers to leave their apartments, show up for you, and share their experiences:

Invoke consumers' fear of being outdated

FOMO may be recently defined, but the feeling of being left behind is longstanding and commonly exasperated by social media. A recent study of Canadian millennials found that 68% had made a reactionary purchase because of FOMO triggered by witnessing someone else’s experience. Creating an event that draws in the guests and makes them feel like they’ve had a collaborative experience with you company is the key to gaining their participation. By inviting your audience to interact with you and share content related to your product or experience, you’ll create a sense of FOMO for your attendee’s followers. It’s a tactic that can help boost brand awareness and loyalty, as well as attract new people for next time.

Promote exclusivity

Everyone loves being apart of a once in a lifetime, VIP experience. Instead of spending millions of marketing dollars hosting an over-the-top, arena-filling event, focus on small-scale, exclusive guest experiences in your largest markets. Creating a sense of exclusivity can activate FOMO even more than an experience *everyone* has access to. Encourage attendees to join your loyalty program in order to receive access to exclusive experiences. Invoke copy such as “elite” or “private” to activate their FOMO and ensure they’ll sign up.

Remove technology from the equation

Anyone who interacts in the digital world knows that promoting an experience through a FOMO-lens can be an exhausting, anxiety-filled process. Even as Millennial consumers are going out less, they are interacting with their social media feeds more. Try flipping FOMO on its head and invite consumers to experience an activation in which they are forced to put their phones down and have an individualized experience, sans braggy social post. Aligning against FOMO is a trendy move that would prove your brand “gets” Millennials, boosting brand awareness.

Surprise them!

When your guests don't know that an activation at your event is going to take place, they don't have to decide whether or not to participate. Stunts can cut through the usual noise by entertaining and surprising your event attendees. A great stunt also turns real-life consumers into an army of trusted brand ambassadors who share their thoughts on social. Technology, the internet, and social media specifically, have given us the ability to amplify our experiences (and brand preferences) faster and with more authenticity. In the past few years, we’ve seen more brands roll the dice in an effort to benefit from our proclivity to share online.

Subscribe to the Insights blog


Mind, Body, Brand: The Rise of the Wellness Movement

The Role of the Ego in Customer Experience Management (CXM)

Have We Ruined Coachella? An Examination of Brands Over Bands