Overcoming The FOMO Effect: What Makes Us Buy Things We Don’t Need?

It’s hard to stay calm when everyone around you is desperate to provoke you into emotions. Here’s how marketers use the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) effect to sell products or services.

You open a newsfeed on the network and see utterly successful people, both acquaintances and strangers. Former colleagues and classmates make brilliant careers, speak at conferences, run blogs, read numerous books, earn MBA degrees, travel, and attend interesting events and exhibitions around the world, and it seems to you that your life is passing by.

If you admit feeling like that, these are the signs of the FOMO syndrome. This acronym conceals the fear of missing something important. As it accumulates, it causes anxiety, worrying and even despair.

Psychologists have studied this syndrome and are generally inclined to believe that social networks are to blame for everything. They deliver a large stream of information from all sides. While some speculate on demonstrating their lives, others succumb to the influence of the FOMO syndrome that makes you doubt yourself and diverts your focus of attention from truly important things.

Following psychologists, marketers assessed the effect of it and began to actively use it in content strategies. How does it work? For example, we can see that people use the emotional system of thinking in 90% of cases. This type of thinking is responsible for quick and impulsive decision-making.

They use slow, thoughtful and rational thinking less often. Due to the fact that decisions are often made impulsively, people constantly make “behavioral mistakes”. They buy goods, use services and make decisions by giving in to impulses or moods, rather than analyzing the situation, thereby succumbing to the power of the FOMO syndrome.

It may seem that decisions are made by themselves and nothing influences people’s choice. But experts who know how this principle works skillfully manipulate the consumers’ behavior. Therefore, armed with knowledge, we go to the forefront of the fight against the FOMO syndrome.

1. The fear of losing or missing out on a lucrative offer

People have a fear that they might be wasting money if they buy a product now. They think that they can find it cheaper. Therefore, marketers use the phrase “if you don’t like the product, we will refund the cost of it” or “if you find it cheaper, we will pay the difference back”. This sounds secure and removes the fear that you will spend more money than the product is actually worth.

2. The opportunity to try something for free

Another tool is a trial (test) period. When you can test the service for a certain period of time. This is a kind of user hook.

People easily agree to it because they are afraid of missing out on the opportunity to use a great service. Then someone renews the service for a fee, and someone simply forgets about the subscription.

3. Authority

People trust products and services that are recognized by experts. In their content strategies, companies often use the phrase: “this product has been approved/developed/tested/recommended by leading dentists or dermatologists.

It looks even more convincing if we add numbers. For example, this cream is recommended by 35,000 cosmetologists around the world. Isn’t it easy to believe?

4. Everyone wants to have what is not enough in the world

It is human nature to want something that is in a limited amount in the world. In fact, it doesn’t matter what this is: time, services or goods. Marketers have turned this feature around to their advantage.

Phrases like “there are 15 days left to purchase this product” or “there are only 3 apartments left in this house” promote impulsive actions. The buyer is ready to buy something now and not miss out on the benefits. These connections often block the ability to think carefully: I’d rather get the benefit now than regret the loss.

5. Haven’t you got it yet? Everyone already has it!

Content strategies are designed for the emotional response: if the majority trusts this, this product is really good. This is deeply rooted in human nature and basic security instincts.

This is a call to become part of the majority. For example, the phrase “our product was purchased by over 1 million people worldwide” or “this product was purchased by 34,000 people in the last 24 hours.” Accordingly, the reaction is “if the product is so popular, I have to buy it”. What if I fail to?

6. Everyone wants to be VIP

Another powerful influence factor is the desire of a person to belong to the elite, to stand out. This trend has been acquiring truly impressive proportions recently.

VIP programs, privilege clubs, closed communities… They exist thanks to the desire to possess things or experiences that no one else has or that only a limited group of people have. Specialists can only skillfully manipulate this, showing clients that they have the opportunity to become part of a certain group.

7. Everyone wants to be spoken about in the news

You’ve probably seen how many companies and bloggers compete to see who will react brighter to high-profile news. This is often done in order to get noticed.

Promptly responding to significant events, you can achieve a quick viral spread of advertising or recognition of your account. Absolutely any topic and event can work here. The main thing is to notice these moments in time.

8. We are of the same blood

Various contests, flash mobs and promotions… When there is some kind of hype (no matter what exactly it is), it’s a must to join in. Any person or any company using hashtags or styles increases the chances of being noticed.

How can you avoid the FOMO effect?


First, analyze the information and turn off external noises. As for the personal perception, the advice might be to imagine a situation that you have everything you dream of: a career, an MBA, your own book, and a bunch of projects.

But you will not show these achievements on social networks. Do you need them without it? If the answer is yes, then this is what you really need.