Creating exclusivity: using scarcity as marketing

Exclusivity by its very nature will always be a marketing winner. Everyone wants to feel like they are getting something special or have beaten the crowds to the punch. Actual scarcity breeds value, created scarcity instead creates attention, engagement and memorable campaigns.

There’s a certain skill in creating scarcity that determines whether things will take off or not. For example, the recent rise of NFTs creates an exclusivity when it comes to owning a certain, one of a kind subject and many creators are producing limited runs of NFT images or pieces of art that are even more sought after. But what about the average consumer? One good example is the Cadbury’s Creme Egg, only available for a part of the year, from January until the end of Easter, it creates sales by only being around for a short time. The one year the brand forgot to limit supply, sales went down dramatically, it’s that simple.

See also, the McRib, a limited edition sandwich from McDonalds that is talked of in hushed tones. Essentially just another menu item, but one that is different enough to cause a stir and a perception that you are lucky if you grab one. 

Card and sticker collectors have long sought out rare cards, the Pokemon craze of the 90s has returned, with collectors still seeking out foils and special cards that are worth more due to their value and created scarcity. So what’s stopping you from creating a similar buzz about your products?

What lessons then can marketers or SMEs learn from this? It’s truly limitless. Placing something on sale for a limited time or promoting a run on scarcity by giving something away or only operating at a certain time certainly attracts attention.The dating app Thursday also runs entirely on that premise. The app only works on a Thursday for people wanting to meet that day. This creates a rush on that day and therefore a reliable, user loyalty that is essentially built in. This gets people talking and for at least the first few months, the app’s marketing campaigns also kicked in for a single day, collaborating with other companies to create a buzz.

Musicians these days make most of their money not from streams, but merch sales. Creating limited runs of vinyl has always been a tactic, runs of 300 or 500 are the norm, but creating coloured variants, complex packaging and other extras mean fans are willing to pay more. It’s a lesson which can be applied to a lot more industries.

Time-limited offers encourage spikes in use, but also spread the word about what you do. A talking point often means you are in customers’ minds for a long time after the fact. It could be something as simple as a disposable product, a service you can only receive at a certain time or just creating one-off runs of products. 

What can you do to take advantage of this idea?

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