They say that young people have a fear of missing out. But in truth, we more “seasoned” people have a fear, too—of missing out on the opportunity to connect with them.
The Urban Dictionary describes FOMO as “the fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.”
Did you all catch the “event” part of that definition? It’s telling us as event marketers, no, practically begging us to align the work we do with the phenomenon that’s driving millennial consumers in the way they live, make decisions, buy products and services and share with friends and families. For them, FOMO isn’t just a funny acronym—it’s a way of life.
It boils down to a desire to be at the right place, at the right time, and to make sure that they get the most out of their lives—at all times. It means having the most fun experiences, being in the know, and in some ways getting their moment of fame within their social networks for discovering the newest, hottest things.
Millennials are the masters of living by the FOMO mantra. And this generation (ages 19 to 31) will make up more and more of the people that we engage with out in the world. By 2015 millennials will make up half of the population in the emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). By 2018 they will eclipse Baby Boomers when it comes to spending power. And by 2030, they will make up half of the work force in the U.S.
Indeed, they are the most powerful demographic to product and service companies around the world and their power will only increase as they get older. Gone will be the often held misconception that millennials are college kids and reality will set in that millennials are now executives, corporate buyers, elected officials, parents and consumers. And as they age, they will take their generational programming—and their FOMO perspective—with them.
As event marketers, we need to figure out ways to provide millennials with the gas that fuels their passions. They don’t want us to sell to them, because they do lots of research online. They don’t want us to preach to them about how great our “Green” strategy is, because they already know that, too. What they want us to do is give them a great experience. They want us to connect with them emotionally and get them excited. They want us to give them an experience so cool that they’ll want to tell their “friends” about it or better yet give them something cool to pin, tweet or put on Tumblr.
They want ideas instead of information. They want to be inspired.
The challenge for event marketers is to gracefully break away from years of figuring how to sell to Gen-Xers and Boomers: people that like lots of information. People that like lots (and lots) of detail. People that want information that can be boiled down into PowerPoint slides and then passed around by email. Or better yet, people that want the slides themselves.
In the process of making this change, we have to continue to design events that work not only for the FOMO generation, but for those Gen-Xers and Boomers, too. Those folks continue to look for that information, while millennials look for the ideas. So we, the event marketers, have to cross this chasm, as I say, “gracefully.” That means evolving the way we do things so that we make powerful and exciting connections with millennials, yet keeping the best of what we’ve learned about selling and taking advantage of the latest information technology to provide all of that detailed information to those who want it.
That may sound like a difficult challenge, but I think we’re up to it. We event marketers live for challenges. And hey, #YOLO: you only live once.
About The Author:
Joe English, (pictured here with a few of Intel’s millennial brand ambassadors at a live concert event) is an Experience Designer with Intel Corporation, where he drives experiential design for the Intel Developer Forum events and trains professional staffers in best practices. He speaks widely about the future of live events and trends that will shape the events of the future.