5 FOMO Tactics to Drive Sales in E-Commerce Mini Programs
ITC author

How much of the purchasing decision process is determined by the subconscious? 90 to 95%, according to different studies. The main driver of purchasing behaviors, and decision-making in general, is emotion.

Strong emotions can be spurred by FOMO, which stands for the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO can be described as a feeling that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent. It is the fear of lagging behind socially, which can be characterized by an urgent need to be constantly staying connected with the activities that surround us (relationships, events, trends, new-in-shop, and more).

A relatively new concept that emerged in the last few yearsFOMO has several different faces and triggers, which can include, but are not limited to:

The lifestyle others experience can make us feel excluded from our circle of friends if we do not share the same way of life.

The opinions of our peers can make us feel invalid if our opinions are not shared with theirs.

Our constant change of focus (especially digital), can make us feel that we are missing out on opportunities, development, or trends if we are not up-to-date with the constant new online information flow.

FOMO creates a strong feeling of social pressure, leading to impulse buying decisions in customers around the world.


In China, brands have leveraged FOMO to boost sales in different aspects of the user journey, including mini-programs. Compared to marketplaces and other channels, mini-programs provide higher customizability that brands can use to properly tailor-made FOMO tactics and to maximize sales.

As part of the WeChat ecosystem, mini-programs have a high number of entry points such as WeChat posts and QR codes, which can be easily shared with individuals or group chats with a simple tap. Thanks to the high shareability and the social element that characterize them, mini-programs are a great tool to stimulate impulse buying, as friends can be a key driver to FOMO. On top of it, people spend a large amount of time on WeChat and are very likely to open and receive notifications from friends or group chats, which can maximize FOMO-induced impulse buying.


Private traffic, and D2C (direct to consumers), have become key drivers of growth for brands in China. To create private traffic, brands need to find ways to drive traffic from open, public channels such as marketplaces, into private ones, where they can nurture the relationship with their buyers. FOMO, when utilized correctly, can be one of the most powerful strategies to achieve that shift and channel users to private ecosystems where growth can be achieved.

Best FOMO Tactics on WeChat Mini Programs

There are a few tactics marketers can utilize to induce FOMO in mini-programs. While some can be also used on other channels (such as a brand.com store or within an app), others are only applicable to WeChat mini-programs. Some of the best tactics to be used on Mini Programs are:

1) Limited availability

2) Limited-time promotions

3) Gamification

4) KOC Influence

5) Live-streaming

Best FOMO Tactics in Mini Programs

1. Limited availability

Limited availability is a powerful driver of FOMO: when people see that a product is running out, their first, unconscious reaction will be: I need to get that before it’s gone.

This concept can be applied to Mini Programs by displaying the amount of stock left to promote and encourage the purchase before someone else does.

By showing the quantity left, it will urge the buyer to reach out for their virtual wallet to buy one left

This strategy can be paired with a small section on the page where users can see that other people have just bought the product, adding even more urgency and FOMO: seeing others purchasing the item we want can compel us to do the same.

Seeing others buy what you want can lead to impulse buying, because of anxiety about sold-out stock.

Key learning for brands:

Scarcity (and FOMO) can be induced by showcasing the amount of stock and showing other buyers.

2. Time-limited promotions

Again revolving around the power of scarcity, a tactic many brands are utilizing to leverage FOMO is time-limited promotions. These tactics are very powerful, as nothing screams FOMO more than the regret of missing out by not buying the latest big thing, especially when it stays around only for a few days. It echoes in your mind: If you do not buy it now, you will not have another chance.

Brands can implement time-limited products and promotions on their existing mini-programs, similar to how Gucci launched a series of pig-design clothes, bags, and accessories to celebrate the year of the pig. Through the brand’s mini-program, Gucci launched an exclusive line with Disney’s most iconic 3 pigs. This campaign has gained a big success with its unique approach to fashion comebacks and retro icons, especially with the younger market.

Limited promotion of themed accessories for the Chinese new year available through Gucci's mini-program.

Time-limited promotions can be applied to Mini programs not only by having limited-time collections or products in your e-commerce catalog but also by creating special, time-limited mini-programs.

A good example of this tactic comes from Coach. In honor of the Year of the Pig, in 2019, Coach launched a flash sale via a time-limited Mini Program for Chinese Customers. This Mini Program helped to stress the urgency of the newest, time, and SKU limited collection of pig-themed accessories.

Coach’s new pig line is representative of the international brand embracing the Chinese market customs and culture.

While the thought of having multiple mini-programs can sound daunting both in terms of cost as well as operation, this can be very solved by utilizing a headless approach, which makes the procedure of deploying multiple, seasonal Mini Programs much faster and more cost-effective.

Furthermore, brands can add a countdown as a strategy to trigger loss aversion, a FOMO-related phenomenon, which makes the visitors think that they’ll miss out on running out of time. This marketing approach will most likely make the consumer reach for their virtual wallets and proceed with the purchase. This strategy is often seen for the double 11 or the double 12 which are known as a shopping holiday for businesses because most businesses participate for this period to apply a limited-time offer, but is also used daily in other mini-programs such as PinDuoDuo.

By showing limited stock and showing the limited time, both combined together, it magnifies the feeling of FOMO, leading to more purchases.

Key learning for brands:

Exclusive, time-limited Mini Programs can be a perfect driver of FOMO.

3. Integrate gamification onto your Mini Program

Gamification and Personalization are big sensations in China, especially for e-commerce. It is a great strategy to raise brand awareness since an interactive mini-program is more likely to be shared in the circle of friends of the user. FOMO has been linked to the loss of aversion and curiosity, meaning the fear of losing points or benefits, as well as the curiosity to solve mysteries, which can be a strong driving force.

A mini-program is the perfect tool to add these gamification elements, such as points to be collected and other rewards, to drive FOMO.

In the mini-program seen below, the user is encouraged to play a game that will benefit them monetarily. By browsing the mini-program products offered, they can hunt for a hong bao, a voucher envelope, that will be redeemed during the payment process. It is a clever, FOMO-fuelled way to better engage users.

Users are clearly shown the benefits they will receive and engage with a mini-game

Red envelopes are scattered throughout the whole mini program

Key learning for brands:

Thanks to their social element, mini-programs are the perfect host of gamification elements to drive FOMO.

4. Empower KOCs with Mini programs

In 2019, a new type of influencer started making its debut on Chinese social media: the so-called KOC. A KOC is an evangelist for the brand, willingly sharing information about brands and products via social media and word of mouth. Most importantly, these super-fans are trusted in their own networks, and the ripple effect goes on. KOC influencers have fewer followers than KOLs, focus on a particular niche and grow a loyal fan base.

On WeChat, KOCs manage multiple group chats of up to 500 users and can have a vast and powerful network. Often KOC and other users have a true relationship as they engage in daily chatter and discuss various topics. Therefore, if a product or brand is shared by a KOC, which is seen not only as an expert in their field but also as a friend and a trusted person, it will generate FOMO to be part of the next big trend.

As a tactic, brands should be aware of KOCs and empower them with mini-programs so that their products can be shared easily in group chats. Even better, brands could implement loyalty programs within their MIni Programs to better cooperate with KOCs.

The poster child of leveraging KOCs in China is Perfect diary. The brand, which became one of the leading cosmetic brands in China at breakneck speed, has recently deployed a Mini Program to better serve their KOCs.

Users can only access the Mini Program by joining one of Abby’s WeChat groups or from a friend who has shared the Mini Program

Key learning for brands:

Brands can leverage KOC-induced FOMO with Mini Programs.

5. Integrate live streaming in your mini program

Live streaming has been proven as an effective method to trigger FOMO. In China, live streaming is very popular and has become a very profitable channel for both streamers and brands. Live streaming works so well thanks to the intimate, trustful bond created between the consumer and the streamer. This is due to the fact that the streamer talks and acts like a friend would, without the hard-selling that can be found in other channels. The streamer, as a result, becomes a trusted person.

Because of this “digital friendship”, FOMO is now set in place, similar to the KOC example.

Since September 2019live streaming can be integrated into e-commerce mini-programs, where users can seamlessly purchase products shared by the streamers. Audiences can simply click on a button in the live stream to open the product listing and visit the mini-program to make a purchase. After the purchase, they can return to live streaming to continue watching.

WeChat’s new live-streaming feature lets brands get even closer to their customers

Key learning for brands:

WeChat mini-program live streaming opens up new channels for brands to leverage the FOMO created by streamers.


Brands in China need to drive public traffic from marketplaces into private environments to achieve growth in the next few years. Enabling FOMO tactics can be a winning strategy to achieve this goal, as they can activate this private loop and a D2C (direct to consumer) disruption.

As such, WeChat Mini programs are the perfect driver of growth for brands: not only can they create FOMO, but they also enable private traffic. While all these tactics can be used separately, they can be used jointly to maximize returns. As multiple mini-programs may need to be deployed, a headless architecture should be considered to lower costs and maximize ROI.