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What are your biggest fears? Sometimes it is simply uncomfortable for a person to admit some of his fears, which are quite irrational and unfounded. That is why we do not insist on an answer. However, think for yourself how does fear affect your behavior and what reactions do certain fears provoke? Fear is a natural, powerful and basic human emotion. It includes a universal biochemical as well as a strong individual emotional response. He forces action, so it’s no surprise that fear is used in marketing. Fear in marketing can be a motivator to take action, but it can also cause a counter effect if not used properly. This could position your brand in an unfavorable light.

Almost every purchase we make is based not only on needs, but also on emotions. The psychology of pleasure and pain can explain much of our shopping behavior. Fear is one of the marketing tactics you will often see used in advertising campaigns. But does fear really work or does it just scare people?

a girl with a frightened expression on her face

Fear-based marketing

Fear-based marketing can be defined as the use of consumer fears to motivate them to buy a product or take a certain action. Advertising has long realized that emotions sell. Messages that can hit a certain emotional button will trigger the desired action much easier than a message that is neutral. People want experiences that bring satisfaction or reward. They want to avoid experiences that bring pain. That's the concept based on psychological research.


  • Fear of leaking
  • fear of losing something
  • fear of a potential future threat

They are most commonly used in fear-based advertising messages. You need to use fear in a way that yields results without compromising your integrity. You really need to know your audience, their situation and what they face in life. This means that if the problem does not attract the reader's attention, no matter how many benefits you offer, your ad will be ignored.


Big eyes are in fear

We buy with emotions, and we justify with logic. Make the threat certain and vivid. Basically, a convincing message relies on the presence of three elements:


  • the threat must be moderate to high
  • the reader must feel that he is personally in danger
  • the reader should believe that the preventive action is simple


And you offer a solution

Once you point out the threat and show the reader that they are in danger, your offer is the last piece of the puzzle. Your potential customer must believe that with your product or service they can prevent a threat. One way to do this is to position your offer as very different from:


  • what they are doing today that puts them in danger and 
  • products they have tried in the past

The point is to offer something that is different and that offers a solution and reduces fear. Offer the target audience a reason why and what they can do to eliminate fear. The type of “intimidation” tactic we focus on is one that causes someone to think they need the product or service you are selling because otherwise something bad will happen.


What about ethics?

An issue that often accompanies the discussion of the use of fear-based marketing is the question of ethics. One concern is that the use of these fear-based tactics, in which the risk or dangerous outcomes are exaggerated, can lead the audience to believe that they are in greater danger than they really are.

Although the effects of fear-based marketing on mentally healthy people are temporary and minimal, these messages can have a more serious, lasting impact on individuals struggling with mental health problems, such as e.g. anxiety disorder.

It is not easy to make a decision about whether the use of fear-based marketing is ethical or not. Some argue that intense emotions such as fear should not be used for corporate gain. On the other hand, it can be said for those who use "luck" to convince the audience to act, they do the same thing as those who use fear, only at the other end of the spectrum.

the hand that wrote business ethics with a pen

Advertisers should keep in mind that they must be objective when sending warning messages about potential threats. To some extent, fear-based marketing should not be a fabrication or deliberate distortion of information in order to profit from the fear and confusion of others.

Either way, if you decide on the tactics of using fear-based marketing, approach the whole thing carefully and be careful not to overdo it and not let the whole idea come back to you like a boomerang.


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Made by Nebojsa Radovanovic - SEO Expert @Digitizer

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