56% suffer from fomo

get serious about scarcity and urgency

Marketing is all about behaviour management – encouraging a target market to behave in preferred manner – for the first or last time, more often, or less often. Persuasion is often central to managing consumer behaviour. This is the last of five thoughts addressing five of the many persuasion tools in the marketer’s toolkit. Some might be obvious, but none is easy to engage effectively.

We have all read an advertisement suggesting that a product is only available at a particular price or for a limited period of time. This is the urgency effect. We have all seen advertisements suggesting that a product is limited in number and that a purchase needs to be made before stocks run out. This is the scarcity effect.

Both effects can work. Both effects rarely work as often or as well as they could.

Research suggests that some 56% of social media users suffer from FOMO – the fear of missing out. These people tend to move quickly to make a purchase when a product is only available for a limited time or in limited quantities. Further, it has been found that the FOMO effect applies equally to goods and services, items, and events.

The impact of the FOMO effect on sales is, however, entirely dependent on the extent to which the scarcity or urgency promoted is deemed to be legitimate.

Consider how often you hear a brand suggesting that an offer is limited by time or quantity, and then compare this to how often you believe the scarcity or urgency messages being communicated. If you are anything like me, and a great many other consumers, you rarely believe claims of scarcity or urgency.

Both scarcity and urgency can be very persuasive marketing techniques, but they have been overused and, very often, fraudulently used. False claims of urgency or scarcity are made far too often.

Legitimising a claim of scarcity or urgency is essential. Such legitimisation might involve:

  • Minimising the frequency that these tools are used
  • Providing a clear substantiation and rationalisation
  • Demonstrating the claimed scarcity or urgency
  • Using credible and circumspect language
Frequent promotions create the idea that another is just around the corner. Evidence creates credibility, as does supporting that credibility with facts. Hyperbole and platitudes can detract significantly from credibility.

Both scarcity and urgency can be very powerful persuasion tools when supported by credibility.

In 2018 – get serious about scarcity and urgency.

Every year – put the facts ahead of intuition and guesswork.

Sources of core statisticsUpwork, Psychology Today, Social Media Examiner, Neuromarketing, HubSpot, Marketing Ideas 101, Direct Creative, Mashable Australia

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