A key principle and fundamental rule within business is the concept of supply and demand; a low supply but high demand for particular Goods will increase its’ overall value.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini says that “a product becomes more attractive when their perceived availability is limited” (1984), and this in turn creates a psychological need for consumers to attain the product. It is this theory which allows brands to put the “scarcity principle” into practice.

The Scarcity Principle

The scarcity principle can encourage consumers to click a call-to-action, complete a lead enquiry form, or purchase a product or service. Not everyone will be drawn to this, but implementing time restrictions or stock limitations adds a sense of urgency to the transactions, and encourages consumers to make their decision – to buy or abandon – faster.

Many popular companies have used this principle in the sale of a product or service, with promising results. Below are a few examples of this:

Booking.com

Booking.com is an online travel comparison site which compares available flights, accommodation and travel options from various companies.

“Last available at this price” or “booked [X] times already today” are common phrases that grace the site, with the intention of speeding up the conversion time of the potential sale. The customer may believe that they will miss out on a good deal to someone else, so they will be more inclined to purchase in fear of missing out.

Starbucks

Many of us are guilty of indulging in a Pumpkin Spiced Latte or a Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate (…or two) during the festive period, and the popularity of this product is largely to do with its rarity – not to mention its taste!

As these festive drinks are only available for a selected period in November and December each year, it creates a sense of urgency for customers to get one before it is too late. Coupled with consumer advertising of posting images of these drinks onto social media sites, this creates a widespread scarcity campaign for Starbucks.

Wowcher

In partnership with different businesses, Wowcher offers various products and services at discounted prices. Many of these are advertised as only being available for a limited time.

This tactic is then supported by their email marketing campaign. Emails are = directed to the consumer as a reminder that the time is running out, increasing the sense of urgency for the product or service.

 

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