Behavioral Trends: Fear of Missing Out


Fear of Missing Out


We should be able to exhaust all the opportunities we want and keep alternatives open all the time. We put an emphasis on that which we have not yet attained, but desperately want to. We want it all and wish to be up to date of all available options.




Hidden organizes clandestine dinners in Mexico. Launched in 2013, they have built a Word-Of-Mouth movement around every unique pop-up dinner they organize. They send an invitation only specifying the date/time of the next dinner. You reserve/pay in advance. Then 2 hours before the dinner they send you the address, so you know where to go (always in a different place). And then you meet with other people to enjoy a surprise menu. Every dinner is a unique experience, that means if you miss one, you miss that one forever.

Fear of Missing Out - The Hidden Kitchen


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the phenomenon of FOMO has changed drastically – but it hasn’t disappeared. Instead of feeling “left out” from social events or fun activities, people are experiencing a kind of guilt from “not taking advantage of” their time in lockdown: While one of your friends is becoming a home baker and another is doing daily exercise routines, you’re sitting on your couch watching Netflix. This overload of information has effectively changed how we feel “left out”: even though parties and social gatherings are now frowned upon, we still want to feel included and on-par with our peers.

Fear of Missing Out - Quarantine FOMO (article)


Despite what may look like a part of the worldwide music industry to outsiders, South Korean pop (K-pop) has its own promotional structure. Artists usually promote their latest release, whether it’s a single, EP or album, on weekly music shows as well as on raffle-attendance fan events called fan-signs. Both of those platforms provide a chance for fans to see their idols close and even meet them, sometimes being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. During the pandemic, however, South Korea has banned mass gatherings, which has led to innovative solutions that allow fans to engage with their idols from the safety of their homes. Digital fansigns are held by KakaoTalk, LINE, Skype or Zoom video calls, where the lucky winners get at least one minute to speak with their idol and then get their signed album delivered to their doorstep. This measure makes the experience not only more accessible, but also less expensive and time-consuming for the fan, making the once-in-a-lifetime experience become all the more special.

Fear of Missing Out - Digital Fansigns (article)


After a relative slump in the market following the highest peak Bitcoin has known (around $19000 USD in 2017), the cryptocurrency has been subjected to a price surge as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the return of what traders call “bitcoin FOMO”, which is the fear of not buying before a significant peak in price – in other words, not “buying the dip”. People who have never bought bitcoin are now being attracted towards the cryptocurrency in hopes that they will be able to multiply their investment – though with the volatility inherent to Bitcoin, nothing guarantees that they will get a profit, in turn perpetuating the self-imposed vicious cycle of FOMO.

Fear of Missing Out - Bitcoin FOMO (article)


Despite being the world’s largest fast food franchise, McDonald’s has seen dropping revenue over the past few years, and even more so during the pandemic. Innovations aimed at increasing sales included all-day breakfast and customizable toppings on burgers, which were effective but short-lived. Then, in August of 2020, the burger giant introduced the much buzzed about Spicy McNuggets in the U.S., and in September, teamed up with rapper Travis Scott for a limited-edition meal bearing his name. The strategy worked, and sales went up – besides the “Travis Scott burger” becoming an incredibly popular meme among young people in its own right. Following in Scott’s footsteps is Colombian rapper J Balvin, whose meal was introduced in October. The combination of tried-and-true celebrity endorsement as well as the time limits of these tactics have proven the impact of FOMO in renewing interest, no matter how big the brand.

Fear of Missing Out - McDonald’s Travis Scott Burger (article)


Italian luxury fashion house Prada has been keen on extending beyond the runway, through feats like renovating architectural landmarks like Rong Zhai in Shanghai and opening the Fondazione Prada for supporting contemporary art. One of their more exclusive proposals has been Prada Mode, a series of invitation-only events held at the same time as major cultural events around the world, like Frieze Art Fair and Art Basel. The itineraries for each iteration of Prada Mode include talks, dinners, parties and exhibitions, providing the VIP guests with exclusive access to these activities and more. Prada Mode has been held in Paris, Hong Kong, London and Miami, and its focus on exclusivity made it one of the most coveted social gatherings surrounding art events.

Fear of Missing Out - Prada Mode



In 2017, reporter Oobah Butler decided to put TripAdvisor’s review system to the test by creating a fake appointment-only restaurant: The Shed at Dulwich. He set up the restaurant’s profile, a website, and purchased a burner phone on which people could request the appointments. By systematically ignoring calls and informing the few lucky ones that got an answer that they were booked, and waiting a few months, he successfully turned his fake restaurant into the best-rated restaurant in London. Eventually, he decided to actually open the “restaurant” (his garden) for a night, serving frozen meals, and even though the experiment fell through after that initial night, the guests wanted to come back. Butler’s experiment shows just how gullible people are on the Internet – as well as their insatiable need to feel included in the most exclusive places, even if they’re fake.

Fear of Missing Out - The Shed at Dulwich, London (article)


In most cases, when a couple gets engaged, the ring usually contains diamonds. We may think this practice is a long tradition, but it has less than a century of existence, and is actually the result of an incredibly influential marketing campaign by De Beers Diamond Company in the 1940s. Back then, diamonds weren’t really popular, and the prices kept going down because of incessant competition. The company then recruited the New York–based ad agency N.W. Ayer to boost the image of diamonds in the United States and thus was born the iconic line, “A diamond is forever”, that would change the status of diamonds in popular culture forever. The promise of eternal romance implied in the diamond’s value ensured that the prices stayed high and that people didn’t resell them, which would bring prices (and public perception) down as well. Not only were people dying to get their hands on diamond rings, but a completely artificial tradition was born.

Fear of Missing Out - De Beers & Diamonds (article)


In 2018, scandalous news enveloped Burberry, as reports uncovered the brand’s practice of burning $36.8 million’s worth of its own unsold merchandise. The scandal forced the brand to address its own practices and vowed to never destroy its merchandise again – however, Burberry isn’t the only brand to engage in destruction of its own products. All kinds of brands, high to low, from Louis Vuitton and Nike to Walmart and J.C. Penney, destroy their surplus merchandise with the sole purpose of creating artificial scarcity, which maintains their exclusivity and image. The most commonly used methods are burning and shredding, mostly done in India, where there are entire towns dedicated to this. These news haven’t done any favors to the fashion industry’s already dismal environmental and ethical reputation: as Vox Media states, “destroying perfectly usable merchandise in an effort to maintain prestige is perhaps the dirtiest secret of them all”.

Fear of Missing Out - Brands Destroy Product To Maintain Exclusivity Through Scarcity (article)


Most member’s clubs build their exclusivity around wealth and status, which means that once you have enough money, you can join any of them. However, the Soho House member’s club is different in that a prerequisite for joining is having a creative soul, being originally founded as a hangout for actors and artists and continuing that spirit to this day. A special focus is placed on diversity and respect, which means that some CEOs that tried to join were rejected due to their unethical practices – preserving the exclusively creative energy the space is built around. With 27 Houses around the world and special member perks, including restaurants, spas, workspaces and cinemas, Soho House brandishes itself as a place to have fun, meet and grow like-minded creatives.

Fear of Missing Out - Soho House


The patterns of high-fashion houses like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have been appropriated and irreverently bootlegged by New York-based designer Imran Moosvi for his brand Imran Potato. The extremely high-demand outputs include garishly monogrammed baby bottles, Vans and Nike shoes (his trademarks), as well as some truly unorthodox offerings like Nike Air Force 1-shaped backpacks. Moosvi’s creations have attracted audiences including celebrities like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Bad Bunny, who show his creations off on their Instagram profiles and onstage. Driven by humor and his own sense of taste, Moosvi designs with enjoyment as his first priority, and despite having recently moved on from the monogram craze, his work still retains that youthful energy that earned him a frenetic audience that will sell out his products in minutes.

Fear of Missing Out - Imran Potato (article)


Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino in 2017 as a five-day-only run. Described as sweet and sour tasting, the drink was an immediate success, with the materials running out in 2 days in some locations, and lines in and around stores just for a taste of the drink. The success of the drink has led to Starbucks bringing it back once a year, always to frenzied audiences that can’t miss out on it.

Fear of Missing Out - Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino (article)


Gen Z superstar Billie Eilish released her anticipated debut album in 2019. To accompany the album’s release, Eilish, in collaboration with Spotify, curated a pop-up installation in downtown Los Angeles (US), called the Billie Eilish Experience. Consisting of 14 unique, themed rooms, each corresponding to a song in the album. The rooms ranged from an RC car track and a full-sized replica of Billie’s bedroom, to a room filled with adoptable rescue puppies. The event was RSVP-only, and quickly became one of the most exciting events in Los Angeles: everyone wanted to be there.

Fear of Missing Out - The Billie Eilish Experience (article)


In a secret location, Secret Cinema open up the doors to an evening of suspense and spectacle beyond any film-lover’s imagination. Dressed as part of the cast, you can choose to blend right in with the crowd or take centre stage as your reality blurs with that of the story. Each experience is unique and unrepeatable. You definitely don’t want to miss it!

Fear of Missing Out - Secret Cinema


Ferrero installs Pop-up stores in Christmas in different cities around the world to teach/show people how Ferrero Rocher pralines are prepared. Those pop-up stores have become very successful showcases for the brand, having lots of press coverage and waiting lines outside.

Fear of Missing Out - Ferrero Rocher


Videogame consoles like PlayStation always play with special editions of different franchises. In that way they get to sell heavy-gamers more than one console, while push the general market to take advantage of those limited editions, that may actually become collector items in the future.

Fear of Missing Out - Playstation


McDonald’s installed this Ice Coupons machine in Rio de Janeiro during the summer. The idea: after a short interaction with the machine you receive a coupon for a free ice-cream in the nearest McDonald’s. The catch? The coupon is actually made of ice, so after getting it you have to run and cash it out. The benefit? This idea generates immediate traffic to the store, with a very creative solution for a “limited time offer”.

Fear of Missing Out - McDonalds


Click here to navigate our list of Behavioral Trends for value creation, full of insights and needstates, written from a post-demographic human-centered perspective by our partner Andrea Lobo.


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