Scarcity Reigns In Certain and Uncertain Times


If you want to create demand around a product or service, convince your customers that your product is in high demand or that units are flying off the shelves. The old marketing adage rings true during any time, as human nature doesn’t change so easily. In times of actual scarcity, these tendencies are ever more obvious than they are during times of abundance. 

When a crisis presents itself, the scarceness of basic products increases their value. Suddenly people are willing to spend 3 or 4 times what they would normally spend for a face mask or, you guessed it, toilet paper. This is actual scarcity in action, and even though it may not reach the level to constitute price gouging at most major retailers, the price of essentials goes up during times of uncertainty.

Of course, in times of relative abundance, the principle of persuasion has helped marketers who can wield it effectively and ethically. Marketers must never lie to their consumers, but there is a lot of possibility in creating a sense of urgency. 

Good examples of scarcity in action in modern digital marketing are the classic phrases we often see (and dearly miss) on travel sites. “17 rooms remaining/booked today!” These encourage us to act by giving us live information, though we may wonder if they are accurate.

Amazon often creates urgency with Lightning Deals, Bonobos helps users understand that their products are in high demand by showing out-of-stock sizes upfront. In a more romantic example, Bumble requires users to reply within 24 hours or they lose the chance. 

Scarcity is a potent tool in the hands of a clever, yet ethical marketer. A modern marketer understands that it’s more about creating a sense of excitement and exclusivity than specifics, but those always help, too.