Commentary

FOMO Drives Teen Spending

“Fear of missing out,” or FOMO, is a major driver of teen spending, according to a new survey of Canadian Millennials by Citizen Relations. The tendency to spend based on friends’ social media activity increases with affluence, and covers a range of purchase categories including travel, social events, dining, and products.

Overall, 64% of all Canadians surveyed admitted to experiencing FOMO as a result of social media, and 56% of Canadians ages 18-30 said the feeling has provoked a desire to “live large,” based on what they see other people doing in their social networks. Citizen Relations notes: “The combination of real time access to peers' experiences in a visual context and the desire to not be left behind is the driving force for this age group to crave these same experiences, from parties and events to trips and vacations.”

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Among the top feelings reported are envy (39%), jealousy (30%), happiness (29%), and sadness (21%). The main categories of FOMO-generating activity include trips, at 59%, parties and events at 56%, and food and dining, at 29%.

As a result of all this FOMO, 68% of Millennials who experience FOMO said they will make a purchase in reaction to what they have seen on social media. More affluent teens, with household income levels of $75,000 a year and up, are the most likely to spend reactively due to FOMO, according to Citizen Relations -- and are also more likely to share these experiences on social media “with the intent of creating FOMO in others,” which just sounds malicious to me.

While it all might sound a bit miserable, Citizen Relations also noted that Millennials seem to be adapting to FOMO by taking a more positive view of feelings like envy and jealousy, traditionally viewed as negative; instead of judging themselves or disliking the person who inspires these feelings, they take them as an emotional prompt to expand their own horizons by experiencing new things. And oh yes, spend money.

 
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