Sunday, November 02, 2014

What Is It About the Scarcity Principle that We Find Irresistible?

I'm sure you're aware of the scarcity principle--how marketers make you think that unless you buy the item right now, you might not get it. Ever.

Examples are everywhere:
  • Act now while supplies last!
  • Limited time offer!
  • Limited to stock on hand.
  • Hurry! Sale ends soon!
  • One day only!
  • Quantities limited!
Then there is the ploy of the last chance ever. Some bookstores have a bin full of books labeled "Last Chance." Unless you buy now, you will never see these books again. Or, more dramatic is the "Going Out of Business" sale. Wow, better get in on the bargains before they are all gone. Related appeals to end-of-the-world scarcity:
  • Closeout sale!
  • Liquidation sale!
  • Everything must go!
Related is the limit-per-customer ploy. If we see an ad for something with the restriction of "one per customer," we think the price must be so low that other dealers or resellers would be pounding at the door to get as many as they could, were it not for the limit put on it. (But then you see an ad for an angle grinder that includes the note, "Limit 8." That doesn't have quite the same power of threat that "Limit 1" has.)

So my question is, why are we such suckers to the scarcity principle? "Closeout? I'd better buy a few right now before they're gone forever." And no doubt most of us have had the experience where we bought a product on  super sale, then returned to get several more, only to find them sold out. That seems to preprogram us for succumbing to the scarcity principle even more strongly.

Experience teaches us that "Supplies Limited" really means "the supplies are limited to the number ca can sell. Ever." And experience also teaches us that, when we don't get the sale item we wanted, something else becomes available that might even be better and cheaper.

The scarcity principle rushes some people into marriage. "If I don't marry him/her now, he/she will marry someone else and be gone forever." Read the slogans at the beginning of this blog entry and you'll see nearly everyone could apply to the marriage situation.

1. Just because someone says it's scarce doesn't mean it is really scarce.
2. If  you are tempted by the scarcity marketing ploys, just think "alternatives," "substitutions," and "equivalents."

No comments:

Post a Comment