categorized as Scarcity

Mental Notes

11-03-2009 BY bbulman

Stephen Anderson is launching Mental Notes, a set of Psychology flash cards, which I think look great. There are 50 of them and each on has a different insight/method, with an explaination and ways to apply that insight to a project. While they wont be released until Spring you can preorder, and also download a PDF with a few samples. I ordered mine a while back and cant wait to get them…

A couple of my favorites are:


Also interestingly, he is using a wee bit of scarcity(in regards to price) to sell them as well, with the accending pricing model.

Looking forward to them.

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Knob Creek runs out of whiskey and….

10-05-2009 BY bbulman

Knob Creek recently took out a full page ad in the New York Times prompting the fact that due to high demand, they are now running low on whiskey and their customers may run into shortages very soon. While this may be true, this is a brilliant marketing play and a great example of Scarcity. Readers of the ad who do not drink Knob Creek may see this ad and wonder if everyone is buying up knob Creek, why haven’t I? Maybe I should try Knob Creek. It’s a brilliant spin of a business problem.

knob creek - thanks for nothing

Found Via: Failure Magazine

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Scarcity – A Limited Number Available

07-16-2009 BY bbulman

One of the key uses of scarcity online is the use of a “limited number” of items available. While this may or may not be true, if there is a perception that you might miss out on something it becomes much more valuable and you are more likely to acquire said object.

Many sites that sell either products or services have recently started displaying X number still available or X items left in their product messaging.

Threadless,  an online T-Shirt Retailer displays “X Left” once a T-shirts stock volumes becomes low.

Threadless - Limited # Available
This pushes people to purchase more quickly, before Threadless runs out of your size.

We also see this with many of the Travel Consolidators, like Orbitz and Travelocity, where they use Scarcity to try and persuade consumers to “act now” before supply is gone or the price increases.

Orbitz uses Scarcity to try and persuade consumers to “Act Fast – Only X number left”

Orbitz - Limited # Available

Below is how Travelocity highlights the “X number left”.

Travelocity - Limited # Available

The practice of exposing low quantities of a product on e-commerce sites is a very powerful element of the Scarcity principle, which feeds into the consumer’s psychological need to compete with others for an item, which in turn makes that item more attractive to them.

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An Introduction to Scarcity

BY bbulman

scar·ci·ty (skâr’sĭ-tē)
n.   pl. scar·ci·ties

  1. Insufficiency of amount or supply; shortage: a scarcity of food that was caused by drought.
  2. Rarity of appearance or occurrence: antiques that are valued for their scarcity.

People assigned a higher value to products or services that are less available. This principle can be used to help push products/services using techniques such as:

  • A “limited number” available
  • Only available for a “limited time”

These techniques try and persuade consumers that there is limited access to what is being offered.

The principle of Scarcity works because:

  1. Things difficult to attain are typically more valuable. And the availability of an item or experience can be perceived as a clue to its quality.
  2. When something becomes less accessible, the ability to have it may be lost.

People respond to that lack of ability to own an object by wanting it more.  In psychology this is called Reactance Theory.

A perfect example of this from the movies is Gollum’s fateful obsession for the ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Real world examples of this include car enthusiasts’ obsession over limited production cars and some women’s interest in owning a Prada or Gucci bag.

The later phenomenon actually led to the opposite of Scarcity, which is Abundance.  Due to the high demand for high-end bags, but the inability for many women to afford them, a market for counterfeit bags appeared, subsequently lowering the perceived value of a Prada or Gucci bag, due to them being more accessible.

Scarcity does not just impact goods and services, but also information.  Limiting access to information may cause consumers to want it more and becoming increasingly favorable to said message.  It is also found that this “scarce” information is perceived as more valuable and more interesting to the consumer.
Real world examples of this are Censorship. Once information becomes censored, many people become very obsessed with wanting access to the information being held back.

Scarcity best works under the two following conditions:

  1. Scarce items are heightened in value when they are newly scarce. Items have higher value when they have become recently restricted–more than items that were restricted all along have.
  2. People are most attracted to scarce resources when they have to compete with others for them.

Defense against scarcity tactics are difficult because scarce items have an emotional quality that makes true consideration difficult.

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