Scarcity Sells!


After reading an article by Nir and Far, titled, How to Boost Desire Using the Psychology of Scarcity, I decided that this is one of the best topics to write about for my blog. They used an example from a 1975 study in which there are ten jars of the same cookies, all full except one jar, which contained two treats. Most of the customers desired the cookies that came from the empty jar. The emptiness of the jar, or as we will call it, scarcity, affected their perception of value. When people feel like they could possibly miss out on an opportunity to try something, they will be more inclined to take that one time offer.

I work at a restaurant that is constantly frequented by tourists. I am always extremely surprised when I am talking to a table that has come from Washington, or another far state, just to order a hamburger and fries. We offer off-menu, seasonal items such as local craft beers, different types of cheesecakes, specialty steaks, and we have a catch of the day. When I present these items, I remember to include words such as “seasonal”, “today we are offering..”, “right now we have…” that way they feel like if they do not order the temporary item, they will be left out of the loop.

The article that I referred to by Nir and Far included an example of scarcity going wrong. Of course, if you claim that an item is scarce when it actually isn’t, there is a chance that the customer could come back at a later date just to realize that you lied. Nir and Far mentioned the time when Mailbox and Tempo opened their apps to a small group of people earlier this year. If you were not in the front of the line, then the wait to use the app was inefficiently long. Many registered users wrote bad reviews and rated the app negatively, despite the fact that they never actually used the app. As a result, the creators of the apps expressed their regret for underestimating the demand for their product, and admitted that they had lost about 100,000 registered users as a result of it. Because of incidences like this one, we are careful about how we use scarcity. Have your facts right before your use this tactic!

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