A New FOMO to Fear This Year–and 3 Tips to Manage It

A new ‘fear of mind overload’ is pervasive in business offerings but sometimes less is more.

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BY Tom Marchant - 12 Jan 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Having worked in the travel industry for years, FOMO, or "the fear of missing out," has become a staple in my vocabulary. Behind the walls of any travel-centric company, there's never a shortage of excited chatter about new plans and bucket list revamps, especially in January. The result can be that all too familiar game of calendar Tetris, played in the hope of avoiding the "fear of missing out."

However, recently FOMO has taken on a new meaning, particularly in the world of business. As the New Year ushers the launch of white paper trends and countless new product lines, FOMO, for me, has become an anagram for the Fear of Mind Overload. I like to think of it as option paralysis - the sheer variety of products that are available to today's consumer becoming too much, and instead of offering a rich variety, straying into an irrelevant excess that can deter a purchase.

So when variety sits on such a knife-edge between underwhelming and overkilling, how can we ensure we're finding the right balance?

New doesn't have to mean more, it has to mean better.

You've heard it before, but less really is more. By attempting to be all things to all people, brands can all too easily become no things to no one. The temptation to simply increase product offerings in lieu of actual innovation can be hard to ignore, but it's vital that brands stay true to their core offering. Apple's dual-launch of the iPhone X and 8 is a good example of how adding just one new product can put a monumental step between the customer and the purchase, resulting in clouding the route to the final transaction.

Consumers don't have as much time as us.

It can be easy to forget that while we, as brands, spend months creating specific product lines and new offerings, the consumer only has a finite time in which to digest them. Online, this window can be as little as 8 seconds to 1 minute and we need to be aware of this and shape our offerings accordingly. Look at Marriot's merger with Starwood. The acquisition means that the group now owns 30 brands and over 5,800 properties. One look at these figures and the new FOMO immediately sets in. Not knowing where to start can quickly lead to the purchaser looking elsewhere for a more streamlined solution.

Make the experience easy.

Working hard for something might reap better rewards in certain circumstances, but in 2018, consumers are more likely to ignore any challenges in their purchasing journey. AWAY Travel, a New York-based luggage company, nailed this less-is-more approach. Offering smart luggage with understated design, the only option for consumers is color and size (of which there are just four choices - The Carry-On, The Bigger Carry-On, The Medium and The Large), making their route to the online check-out as seamless as possible. We can all learn from this approach. In time I'm sure that AWAY will evolve with new product lines and offerings, but launching with such a strong clarity of product and purpose allows consumers to really understand the brand at its conception, thus building the perfect base for product expansion when the time is right.