Its Feburary and one of the most magical times of the year, Fish sandwiches are served at every restaurant in the western hemisphere and the Shamrock shake is available at McDonalds again, but for only a limited time. I know when the advertisements come this time of year there are two things “I have to do”, get a fish sandwich (or sammich as we say in Pittsburgh) and a Shamrock Shake. But why is this, any other time of the year I don’t care for a fish sandwich and my diet can deal without the extra calories of a milkshake.
FoMO bro, this is an actual thing, the “Fear of Missing Out”. I had no idea this existed until one day at a local convenience store I ran into a beverage representative and asked the curious question “why are there so many options for this one drink?” He actually took the time to tell me about the extensive research that is done by the beverage manufacturer and they figured out that consumers actually have a fear of missing out on new items which forces them into constantly trying something new. Though, I probably had a blank look on my face because it didn’t quite compute at the time. I remember thinking to myself “people are afraid of missing out, this makes no sense?” As I chose my new found flavor of Red Bull I didn’t think anything else about it. It wasn’t until shortly after when sure enough the Shamrock shake was available again that it hit me like a sack of bricks. This is what the beverage rep was telling me and then it all made sense.
If I do not have these seasonal items, It will be an entire year before I can have them again. Ok, perhaps not the fish sandwich, usually any dive bar will have a good beer battered fish sandwich. But for some reason it’s as if I don’t do it during lent, perhaps I will go to hell. If you take a look at this tactic it’s used widely throughout the restaurant industry and probably even more so in the convenience segment. How often do you pick your meal from the daily special as opposed to the regular menu? How many times have you seen “for a limited time only” or “new”, I highly doubt these manufacturers like constantly adding a new SKU to their inventory but they understand that in today’s society people want choices. It is said that variety is the spice of life and I can adventure down every new flavor of the Dorito river, and though the spicy sweet chilly flavor doesn’t even sound that appetizing it sparked my curiosity and I had to try. Think of the abundance of choices that we are faced with every day with every purchase.
In the car wash industry we tend to be a set it and forget it industry because, let’s face it when you find something that works we stick with it. We should however be giving the customers a new reason to visit the wash other than just a clean car. Yes a clean car is our end result but we are selling an experience from the first point of contact to the smell that is left in their garage when they get home. Until the recent inception of Hot Wax and Shine we had triple foam, which was about the coolest thing to hit the car wash since ace of base had a number one hit. Really? 20 years for something different and it took the industry by storm, now perhaps it was the right economical climate for car washes to finally rebound. But it also shows how car wash professionals and consumers alike have been waiting for something new and exciting. Best yet everyone now is looking for the next big thing in car washing. Add these factors and you are sure to set your car wash apart from the competition as well as build customer loyalty.
The lesson that can be learned from FoMO is that we should always be trying to push new products and services. Limit the production for certain products or make them seasonal. From a sales perspective it is always more fun to talk about the latest and greatest and the end consumers will be more willing to try something new or for a limited time. Trends always come back around. Think of something in your business that can be re-marketed, reused, changed or tweaked to make feel new again and then implement it, then next month do it again.