Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Impact on Brand Loyalty

Zhuofan Zhang, University of Texas at El Paso


The trend on experiential marketing has propelled a new wave of studies examining the underlying motivations of individual's desire for experiential consumption: keeping updated with new trends, trying new brands, spending on experiential products, or seeking new brand experiences. Some authors contend that individuals' desire for new experiences derives from a concept called Fear of Missing Out (FoMO). Although the term FoMO is gaining attention in the social media literature, there is little conceptual and empirical research exists on the topic. In this dissertation, I attempt to fill this gap by conceptualizing, defining, and measuring the construct. In addition, I examine the relationship between FoMO and brand loyalty. To do so, I organized the dissertation in three essays. In essay 1, I reviewed the extant literature on FoMO, created a conceptual framework of the construct and proposed avenues for future research. I began the essay by discussing the limitations of past definitions and proposed a new definition of FoMO. Different from previous definitions that view FoMO as a fear of missing out on social media comments an trends, my definition does not confine the feeling of missing out to a specific context. Based on theories of motivation, I defined FoMO as fear of missing an experience that can help the individual attain a personal or social goal. This definition can be used to investigate the relationship of FoMO with marketing concepts in different contexts. Contrary to previous conceptualizations, which view FoMO as a reflection of social comparison, I contend that FoMO occurs when the individuals utilize experiences to shape their expected self. I draw from self-determination theory to support this conceptualization. Essay 1 ends with a discussion on the potential theoretical contributions associated with FoMO and offers avenues for future research. In essay 2, based on standard scale development procedures and 4 rounds of data collection (Total N = 1,303), I developed a reliable, valid, and context-free scale of FoMO. Contrary to past FoMO scales, which are limited to the context of social media, the new FoMO scale applies to a wide range of marketing contexts. I began the essay by discussing general issues of scale development such as whether the construct is one-dimensional or multi-dimensional, and whether the model is reflective or formative. Then, I followed the steps of item generation, initial analysis (EFA), scale purification (CFA), and tested convergent, discriminant, and nomological validity. The analysis resulted in a reliable and valid two-dimensional 9-item scale. In essay 3, I examined the effect of FoMO on emotional attachment and brand loyalty. Though previous studies have shown a positive relationship between brand experience, emotional attachment, and brand loyalty, the role of FoMO was not considered. Thus this essay examined, for high FoMO individuals, whether the attachment generated through a brand experience turns into brand loyalty or not. Because FoMO can be emanate from either internal or external motives, FoMO can interfere with consumers' subjective judgment of benefits and motivate consumers to conduct exploratory behavior on new brands. Accordingly, individuals with high level of FoMO will not easily commit themselves to the brand-self relationship through enactment of loyalty behavior. The results of an experiment support these theoretical arguments. This dissertation contributes to marketing theory by offering a definition and theoretical conceptualization of the construct of Fear of Missing Out. In addition, this dissertation offers a reliable and valid scale that researchers can use to develop nomological networks and test the impact of FoMO in consumer behavior. For managers, I show that FoMO can affect how consumers engage with brands and begin the discussion on how FoMO may or may not lead to brand loyalty. This is the first investigation of FoMO in the context of branding.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Zhang, Zhuofan, "Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Impact on Brand Loyalty" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10810501.