FOMO Drives the Next Generation of Mobile Customers

September 25, 2018

Contributor: Katie Costello

Application leaders must understand millennial and Generation Z anxieties to support their customer experience needs.

FOMO, the "fear of missing out," permeates most corners of the millennial and Generation Z (Gen-Z) cultures. In the most basic sense, FOMO might guide a person’s decision to attend a party or vacation, when they actually would prefer to watch a good movie in their pajamas. They fear missing out on the experience and memories their fellow attendees might come by. In today’s world of constant information sharing, it becomes increasingly important to application leaders to have a better understanding of how FOMO motivates this next wave of customer buying behaviors.

“ FOMO is now moving markets and is a key driver of the experience economy”

“FOMO is not a new idea. Instead, this long-standing mindset of “keeping up with the Joneses’” has been magnified, thanks to the introduction of technologies that expand your audience beyond your neighborhood to the world,” says Jenny Sussin, managing VP at Gartner. “FOMO is now moving markets and is a key driver of the experience economy.”

Sussin identifies three ways in which application organizations can deliver a different kind of customer experience built around millennial and Gez-Z buying behaviors, such as FOMO. Millennials are defined as those born between 1980 and 1994 (currently 24-38 years old) and Gen-Z as those born between 1995 and 2009 (currently 9-23 years old).

Go beyond "Instagrammable" to actionable

Organizations usually assign social media practices to their marketing teams, but IT certainly plays a role. “Organizations must engage IT to operationalize social media's role in creating an inclusive customer experience and thwart feelings of FOMO,” Sussin says. “They don't just seek to generate FOMO, but also to find ways to convert those feelings into business outcomes.”

To do so, Sussin recommends that application leaders:

  • Analyze current social analytic investments and propose using new or existing tools to identify feelings of FOMO.
  • Operationalize social marketing campaigns to adapt to indicators of FOMO and send real-time offers to prospective customers.

Enable mobile transactions and allow customers to live in the moment

Simply scrolling through social media, a frequent activity for many millennials and Gen-Z, generates feelings of FOMO. Beyond this, these groups are also using mobile apps for activities such as mobile banking, shopping and watching videos.

“ Millennials and Gen-Z are natural multitaskers”

“The next generation of customers is growing up at unprecedented rates, with unprecedented access to information. Millennials and Gen-Z are natural multitaskers,” Sussin says. As a result, organizations need to be completely mobile-accessible, as “allowing prospects and customers to connect with you throughout the day as they go about other tasks is critical to success with the next generation of customers,” she adds.

As such, Sussin recommends application leaders to:

  • Exploit mobile commerce opportunities through mobile payment apps and conversational commerce.
  • Develop self-service opportunities for the 24/7 customer by using traditional knowledge management tools as well as progressive technologies like virtual chat assistances (VCAs) and chatbots.


Bring more customers into physical experiences

If social and mobile channels create FOMO, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) cure it — and some organizations are already recognizing this opportunity. For instance, Sephora Virtual Artist allows customers to virtually try on makeup via a phone app, and Best Western VR Experience enables guests to experience North American properties via interactive tours.

“ The next generation of customers is a ripe audience for experimentation”

“Both AR and VR can expose prospective customers to products and services that were once unimaginable, and the next generation of customers is a ripe audience for experimentation,” says Sussin.

As a result, Sussin recommends that application leaders:

  • Experiment with AR within your existing mobile apps.
  • If in a B2C or government organization, look for opportunities to leverage VR as part of your “digital business” or “digital government” branding strategy.
  • If in a B2B organization, look to real-world leaders for bringing immersive reality into practice.

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