Connecting Our Social and Consumer Psyches

In a post last week, we discussed the psychology that drove shoppers to buy in increasing numbers during the Thanksgiving weekend events, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. One of the principles discussed, fear of missing out, (FOMO) is of particular interest today; the term has been used more and more frequently to describe a behavior resulting from the growing presence of social/digital connection to our day-to-day lives. JWT Intelligence released a study uncovering the drivers and anxieties related to FOMO. We’ve always had a fear of missing out, but that fear is exacerbated with the onset of real-time, location-based, and social media tools. Real-time digital updates to your computer or mobile phone from Facebook posts about the party your friends are a and Foursquare check-ins at a local restaurant are generating social angst. The study hypothesizes that as social media makes people aware of things to which they might not otherwise have been privy, it can spark a sense of vicarious participation or motivate real-world behavior.

Do these principles hold true for the shopper in us as well? If so, could it be contributing to the success of events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday ? The increasing presence of brands and retailers into our social feeds, with messages like, “Annual Sale”, “Two Days Only”, or “Don’t Miss Out On”, might be generating the same social effects ofFOMO on consumer inside of us.

Social media has created an interesting space where our social and consumer selves have become intertwined. As brands and retailers make more of an effort to integrate into the social world, we will continue to see these interesting parallels driving the behavior of these two selves.