Survey shows #FOMO builds purchase intent

Canadians often want to shop to cope with the "fear of missing out"

Dan Taccone March 11, 2015

A new study commissioned by Citizen Relations Canada investigates the much-hashtagged “FOMO” phenomenon for its affects on consumers and driving them towards purchases.

As a social media trend, FOMO (which stands for “fear of missing out”) comes from being constantly bombarded by experiences and products through Facebook, Instagram and their ilk. Upon seeing a friend’s shopping haul on Instagram, for example, a person may tag their response with #FOMO to indicate jealousy or even their intent to hit the mall.

Marketers have started using the term as well, warning social followers not to miss out on special events and products.

Avoid #FOMO. Get up to an extra 15% off clothing, accessories + fine jewelry now through Saturday with this coupon… http://t.co/pJVj09vOCb
— searsStyle (@searsStyle) March 9, 2015

Citizen Relations found that 68% of millennials said they’ve made a reactionary purchase as a result of FOMO, often within 24 hours of seeing and coveting someone else’s experience. Broadly, 64% of all Canadians said they experience FOMO.

“It’s no secret social media plays a significant role in the lives of Canadians, but now, with this in-depth look at the various influences, we discovered how they affect purchasing decisions,” said Nick Cowling, general manager for Citizen Relations Canada. “The findings in this report provide intel as to how companies can better utilize their social media platforms to influence audiences and better understanding how, and when to engage them.”

The survey found that 56% of Canadians between ages 18-30 admitted to being inspired to live more extravagantly by the content on their social networks. It also found 24% of millennials felt they would lose social recognition if they were to miss out on a popular event.

Canadians said they mostly felt FOMO when exposed to content related to trips (59%), parties and events (56%) and food (29%).

The survey findings also suggest those most likely to spend in reaction to FOMO are Canadians whose household income is upwards of $75,000; the higher the reported income beyond that benchmark, the more likely they were to start spending.

The PR agency’s report also discovered a difference in what Canadians spend FOMO money on. While millennials most often let FOMO inspire their decisions when it comes to entertainment and traveling, parents and families most often used FOMO-related posts to crowdsource for family experiences and products.

Citizen Relations gathered its data by surveying 1,200 Canadians equally distributed throughout Canada’s East, West, Ontario and Quebec.