What Is Scarcity Marketing? How Is It Useful In eCommerce?

Posted on Aug 27, 2020
What Is Scarcity Marketing? How Is It Useful In eCommerce?

It’s the allure of the forbidden fruit.

Things that exist in limited quantities tend to have the strongest appeal.

It’s no surprise that people want what they can’t have. This urge is heavily brought about by the fact that people perceive items that exist in limited quantities as being more precious and valuable.

In an age of constant disruption in the marketing scene, we’ve seen businesses do their all to get their products and services in front of as many eyes as they can.

Today, online checkouts happen at the click of a button, ads are spread out across various media, and influencers help connect brands to specific audiences.

All this is dandy. As the conventional marketer will tell you, using tools to measure engagement levels and doing calculations of ROI is the best way to know just how valuable your product is to consumers.

While that’s the tried-and-tested method, scarcity marketing takes everything left field.

Here, you want your product and/service away from the limelight. Essentially, you make it hard to get. In an age of information, this friction is what gets tongues wagging.

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What Is Scarcity Marketing?


Scarcity marketing borrows from Economics 101.

As per the law of supply and demand, low supply and high demand for products usually drive the price upwards.

Scarcity marketing uses this simple principle to make products and services more valuable. Once people think a certain product is going to be away from their reach, the odds are that they will try to buy it than if the impression of scarcity wasn’t created.

As a businessperson, you can use the scarcity principle to convince people to check out your products or fill out lead forms.

With all the interconnectedness in the world, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is greater than it ever was. This is thanks to all social networking platforms that enable people to connect from around the world.

The more buzz a product/service or event generates, the more anxious people will be about missing the action.

In modern times, we see some aspects of this in play when you’re buying air tickets. Unless you’re working with time constraints, there’s a good chance you’d be willing to wait until the opportune moment when ticket prices are down.

At that moment, you have your favorite seat available to you at a discounted price and all you’re thinking about is that you need to buy the ticket in the here and now.

The last thing on your mind is waiting until later when you run the risk of forking out more money.

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Scarcity Marketing In Action

Limited Bonuses


Say you have a great product or service and you have eager customers ready to buy. Looking from the outside, one would assume that there’s no way you can further increase the allure of your offerings.

But you see, that’s just the thing. Even when business is booming, scarcity marketing can always be depended upon.

As a show of appreciation for their support, you can run a promotion that gives out freebies upon the purchase of particular items.

Since everyone is always looking for something extra, such offers are likely going to sound too good to be true and people will rush to get a hold of such offerings before stock runs out.

Should you realize that the buzz generated is great but there seems to be no rush to grab a hold of such items, we suggest creating a sense of urgency about the items on offer.

With the knowledge that the promotion is time-sensitive, customers will be inspired to act sooner rather than later when they run the risk of missing out.

Importantly, you want to create a marketing campaign that creates the impression that you’re doing it all as a way of thanking your audience for being loyal to the brand.

Not only will this bolster your campaign in terms of quality perception, but it will also inspire people to closer review what you have going on.

If you’re looking to run a home-run campaign, we suggest putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer. This way, you can better visualize what items pair together nicely and come up with discount strategies to enhance your sales numbers.

Introductory-Price Strategy


Having touched on discounted promos, it’s important to always have your entrepreneur hat on. This is because running discounts over extended periods will not do much for you except break even.

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid discounts altogether. Rather, you need to be smart about it. The limited-introductory-price strategy is one way you can go about doing product/service reveals.

When something is new to the market, you want it to arrive with a bang. Other than the quality guarantee, you also want the price to sound unreal. This way, you can have a good percentage of your audience engaging with your offerings.

As this goes on, the odds are that you will be able to create loyalists out of prospects and have them willing to go the distance with you, long after the discounted promotion ends.

This introductory-price strategy because people tend to be motivated to sample products that they’ve been thinking of checking out. Running it as a part of a beta program gives your campaign the legs it needs to keep pushing and breaking the limits.

Such kind of early bird initiatives get the masses talking and can serve as the perfect recipe

ALSO READ: Ways You Can Use Gamification To Boost eCommerce Sales

Stock Is Low Tactic


As Jack Brehm posits in the Theory of Psychological Reactance, the threat to a loss of freedom tends to inspire people to restore that freedom.

As an entrepreneur, you can use scarcity marketing to your advantage to entice audiences to grab a hold of your items before they run out of stock.

The mere illusion of a limited supply serves as sufficient fuel for people to rush in and see what offerings are available.

For consumers, it makes total sense because they are simply acting out on an impulse to satisfy a need that they’re confident they’ll have in the future. It doesn’t have to be in the present.

To take things up a notch, you can provide regular updates on just how much the stock is flying off the shelf.

When you do this, you’re bound to realize that people take a special interest in what’s going on at the shop.

Using convenient platforms like emails makes prospects feel that you care about their well-being and wouldn’t want them to miss out on something that could enhance their lives so much.

On paper, it sounds simple but it produces great results.

If you don’t run a brick and mortar enterprise, you can send out updates to customers who’ve abandoned items on the cart without cashing out.

A notification about how fast the items are flying out of stock is a great motivator for them to take action and complete the sale.

Recent examples of this include:

  • Amazon Fire TVs stock quickly run out just a week after product launch
  • Nintendo’s Wii’s console supply seems to be shorted shortly after the release

The Urgency Strategy


Today, customers have very specific needs that need your attention. Since the customer is always right, you need to do your best to fulfill their needs and have them leave your premises happy.

Companies that offer free fast shipping on eligible services are likely to capture the attention of their audiences since they offer great convenience.

If you’re looking to tap into this market, your name should speak for itself. For this, you need to guarantee on-time deliveries and product shipping.

Since this kind of service is all the rage, you want your brand to be in the thick of things, not simply watching on from a distance.

By pairing the practice with scarcity marketing concepts, you can have clients eager to buy instantly when you have products dropping. Simple suggestions like “order by 2 pm” can serve as a great incentive for customers to take action.

Of course, to pull this off, you’ll also need to have a great PR team working behind the scenes.

Limited Items In Stock


A good number of luxury brands have made a name for themselves through the years by trimming the production line.

By stocking limited items, the intrinsic value of products produced tends to go high almost immediately.

Importantly, you don’t have to be a luxury brand to embrace this concept. You can conduct time-limited sales to compel action on the part of buyers.

For this to work, you want to devise a creative campaign that urges them to review products you’re offering before they miss out on a chance of a lifetime.

Being time-limited, this strategy works in your favor since it won’t be long before you start reaping the fruits of your work. Of great importance is the exclusivity you offer.

This goes a long way in convincing prospects that they need to get aboard the ship before it sails off.

Parting Shot

Scarcity marketing is a whole new approach that breaks a good number of marketing rules. Still, it obeys the demand-supply chain in a manner that inspires creative entrepreneurs to take action.

In our review, we’ve glossed over various tactics that can help you elevate your business to the next level. While all five talking points have their merits, we’re certain that a couple appealed to you more than others.

We’d love to hear from you about what inspires you to sample scarcity marketing. Do you think it’s something you’d love to explore? How patient are you?

Comment below and let us know.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan, is a seasoned Digital Marketer with more than 17+ years in Digital Marketing & IT Sales. He loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the digital world, especially related to WordPress, Woocommerce and Digital Marketing.