12 Scarcity Marketing Tactics (With Examples)

Looking for the best scarcity marketing tactics to implement for your business?

Scarcity marketing works, even more with the modern internet audience.

In the world of fast fashion, limited Nike launches, and exclusive deals that last only for several hours, scarcity is the key to sell more in less time.

So in this guide here you’re going to learn everything you need to know to kill it online.

12 scarcity marketing tactics to explode your conversion rates and revenue through the roof:

The Contents

  • What is scarcity marketing exactly, and why is it so useful?
  • Bonus
  • Conclusion

What is scarcity marketing exactly, and why is it so useful?

Scarcity marketing works on the scarcity principle.

What is the scarcity principle?

People want what they can’t have because the grass is always greener on the other side. Products that are scarce, or perceived to be limited, become more valuable in the eyes of prospective buyers.

You intentionally lower the availability of your service, or your products keeping the demand sky-high.

You make your products more scarce and thus more valuable.

Moreover, this means you’ll be able to charge premium prices.

Scarcity marketing is everywhere, offline, and online.

However, why does it work?

Here are 3 reasons why:

a) Exclusivity

Oh yeah! Buying a product or service that almost no one else has, especially in your social circles, makes you a star. You feel good about yourself. You feel proud, accomplished, and elevated in the eyes of your peers.

Exclusivity- a pleasant emotion to be feeling.

b) Fear of missing out (FOMO).

From the pen of Dr. Dan Herman, FOMO is:

A fearful attitude towards the possibility of failing to exhaust available opportunities and missing the expected joy associated with succeeding in doing.

That’s the definition of FOMO, and the gist of it is:

Folks hate missing out on good deals, especially if someone else they know has something they don’t (and it’s limited)

c) Feeling of regret

Regret is a powerful and often gut-wrenching emotion.

It’s because, typically in life, we regret what we can’t fix. So regret has a sense of finality to its name.

Of course, shopping online can’t compare with mishaps of life, but people still like to avoid feeling regretful if possible

It’s understandable and a powerful motivator to take action and buy the damn thing.

I know you’re starting to get this scarcity marketing thing down, but here are three quick studies/stories that show just how powerful the scarcity principle is.

a) Toddler toys

The author, Jack Brehm, In his book, Theory of Psychological Reactance, talks about researching this phenomenon.

Two toddlers and two toys. In front of one toy, there’s a Plexiglas barrier. In front of another, there’s nothing.

What do you think happened?

Both toddlers reached for the first toy even though the second one was clear insight, and the first toy had a barrier they needed to avoid.

Toddlers thought the shielded toy is more scarce/valuable to possess.

b) Cookies in a jar

Two bottles. One has two cookies in it. The other has 10.

Grown-up folks are asked to choose which one is more desirable.

You guessed it, right? They all chose the first one. Their logic was that someone ate eight cookies, so they must be scrumptious.

c) Bear goggles world view

Women in bars get prettier and prettier as closing time approaches. Also, it’s all the effect of you having downed a few pints of Germany’s best lager.

Good beer makes everything prettier.

Makes sense?

Actually, NO.

Science says that as the number of females gets lower, (they get scarce); the attraction level of those that stay rises.

How romantic!

Ok, the scarcity principle works, and these are the tactics to make it work for you.

#1- Limited time sale countdown

This tactic puts time constraints on decisions you can make.

Do you want it? Better act now or the offer will be gone and stay gone for good.

For example, here’s how Amazon, the masters of scarcity marketing, put a fire under your heels to decide quickly.

Take a look at their “deals of the day” page. It is here that you cherry-pick products you like and purchase them at huge discounts.

However, you must be quick!

Tempus fugit, and once that clocks struck 00.00- you can’t buy any more.

Amazon, deals of the day- be fast or you lose!

 

And here’s another example from the newsletter of Matt Diggity.

Limited time lower prices tactic works in email too.

I’m subscribed to his list, and he sent me an email for his Affiliate Lab program where he teaches advanced SEO for beating Google to higher rankings.

His angle is that the medic update (happened in  August 2018) destroyed many sites; and that he found the answer for it, and If I want to be privy to that insider info I better apply and quickly.

Plus he offers a $200 discount but only valid till Monday.

This email didn’t work on me because I don’t have a site in the health space, but I can imagine he got many new sales from this smart scarcity marketing strategy.

#2- Next day shipping guaranteed countdown

Just like the name suggests, this tactic consists of employing a little notice next to the product listing to inform potential buyers that, if they want product X and want it by tomorrow, they better buy quickly.

For example, Walmart, the king of scarcity marketing, does this exceptionally well.

Take a look below:

guaranteed next day shipping scarcity tactic

See how they say “Order in next 7h 35m for NextDay Delivery!”.

Why does it work?

Because people online are impatient and want their shiny new objects now, or as soon as possible.

I can relate to this, and I’m guilty of it too; even though I know what scarcity marketing is and that this is Walmart’s tactic to get me to buy fast.

Hey, when something works- it works!

#3- Purchase countdown

email marketing for promoting affiliate products

Putting a ticking clock on the sales page is a time tested method of generating more sales.

Why?

Simple- it works!

However, why does it work?

Because people who’re on that page are probably very interested in the product displayed, and they can see the time they have to make a decision.

When it’s a short amount like in the image below, they often buy.

Remember: folks buy on such short notice because they want the damn thing, and they don’t want to miss because the timer is running out.

So they want to snatch it before anyone else can so they feel good about themselves.

#4- Time-limited introductory countdown

Launching every new product comes with the gripping fear of failure.

I mean, how could it not? You worked so hard; you’ve put in such long hours, yet you know it could all go down in flames if the product flops.

Fortunately, there’s a way to mitigate the risk and get the necessary feedback quickly.

What is it?

It’s inviting folks to try out your new product or join your new service for an introductory price, which is always much lower than what you plan to charge later.

This helps you get your first base of customers, and if the product is good, you will also get some raving reviews you can use as social proof.

The key here is to specify that you’re offering this for a limited time only and that folks need to be quick on their feet or else they’ll miss it.

#5- Spotlighting customer behavior

This tactic works by tuning into the deep-ingrained human need for validation.

People won’t buy an item unless they feel others have and enjoy using them.

Smart companies use this to their advantage by actually showing people how many other “happy” folks already have what they want.

This not only demonstrates social proof for the company. However, it also subtly convey urgency as people realize the opportunity might snatch from under their noses.

For example, see how masterful Airbnb does it withe their room rentals:

They show you whether the room is hot and you know already there’re limited spaces available, so you better buy NOW!

Spotlighting human behavior scarcity tactic

#6- Product sold out/unavailable

Products that are all sold out are very good and popular products.

Makes sense, right?

So, if you have on display a product that has recently sold out, don’t take it down from your site until you re-stock,

Instead, put out a notice that the product is sold out and that people can put in their email addresses to notify when the next batch arrives.

By acting like this, so, not only are you driving primal human scarcity urges through the roof, but you’re also building a mini email list of people red-hot to buy.

They’ll be practically begging you to re-stock so they can spend money in your store.

See how Street Wear Official does is with their luxurious Italian linen slipper:s

Product unavailability as a scarcity stratagem works

 #7- Real-time activity

Real-time activity is when you’re browsing through a website and looking to buy, and you can see that other people are close to buying the same product or purchasing the same service.

So you need to be fast and overtake those that are already putting in their CC numbers into the form’s field.

Booking sites do this exceptionally well.

When you’re considering renting a room, you can see that X number of people are also considering and you know that time is running out. You must decide NOW or see your perfect room snatched before your eyes.

And here a warning to you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. Losing something you thought was yours and secured for you stings — a LOT.

Real time activity builds pressure to decide right away

#8- Low stock notice

This is a great little hack for eCommerce stores because it works like crazy and can boost sales like you wouldn’t believe it.

What is it, and why does it work?

It’s simple.

If some item is selling particularly well and your inventory is getting depleted fast, make it a point to let potential shoppers know about it.

Show them there are only a few items left and that they better act fast lest they miss it and then have to wait to get it.

Here’s this Salvatore Ferragamo backpack; it costs a whopping $1490, yet there’s only one left. If I wanted one and saw there’s only one left, I’d be scrambling for my credit card before you could say “backpack.”

only few items left scarcity tactic

Why does telling people there are only a few items left boost sales?

It works because people don’t want to miss out on getting the product they probably need. However, also because they fear someone else might snatch the product under their nose.

And remember, the pain of losing something is twice as immense as the joy of getting the same thing.

it's more painful to lose something, than to get something of equal value.

Pro tip- Combine this tactic with a real-life scarcity tactic from above. Doing so will put some extra pressure and will bag you a few more sales. That you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

#9- Limited production

The knowledge that there is a limited supply, and once the supply amount ends, there’s no more left is a powerful motivator.

So much so that most people would go to great lengths to acquire such objects.

They know they’re rare and those other people won’t be able to replicate their “success.”

Here are  two examples:

Kanye West, besides being a famous rapper and one of the most excellent music star in history, is also a designer and his custom-designed snickers were developed and released in cooperation with Adidas.

Of course, those snickers sold out in a flash.

Why?

First, because Kanye is such a massive star, and everything he does is an instant success because millions of fans back it.

Second, those shoes were limited edition, which means that they were scarce from the beginning.

Second example

In the Fall of 2017, McDonald’s launched a big scarcity marketing campaign for their Szechuan sauce, a limited-edition premium sauce that was once available in the ’90s but has since been retired.

So they brought back the sauce for one day only in October 2017.

https://wrapspots.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/limited20edition20scarcity20marketing-20example20from20mcdonalds-1.html

So the result? Was the campaign successful?

You tell me:

people are standing in lines, literally fighting to get their hands on these sauce packages.

So trust me I feel silly writing this because it’s just a fancy sauce darn it. But, an actual re-seller market where you could buy these packages of sauce for outrageous prices.

No- I’m not kidding.

The result was so spectacular that McDonald’s brought it back for one more day.

Anotehr example from McDonald's- limited edition products, in this case bag of sauce

#10- giving freebies liberally

This tactic takes advantage of people’s love for getting free stuff.

Here’s how it works.

“Hey everyone, If you buy this product right now you will get a freebie to go along with it.”

Giving free stuff when people pass certain purchase threshold will bring you brand trust and loyalty

 

So, I ordered a few shampoos and hair regenerators from Walmart, and my order exceeded $100 and boom, I got free shipping anywhere in the world. Technically this isn’t a freebie as in I’m not getting a free product, but I am getting free delivery which otherwise would’ve cost me $10+.

So I took notice of their generosity and will shop again there soon.

Why does this work? When to give free stuff, and when to refrain?

It works because people like getting freebies. It makes them feel good and privileged because let’s face it, everyone thinks they deserve free stuff.

It also helps that there’s a scarcity element to the offer. Folks can anticipate they’ll miss their chance if they don’t act fast.

Note: don’t use this tactic if everything you sell is in the very high price range. That’s because it undermines your other product’s perceived value.

Folks are going to wonder:

“they sell this for so much here, yet there they’re giving it for free.

Why? Perhaps it’s not that good in the first place”?

Instead, offer them a freebie that s cheap, but useful. For example, when people buy a new UHDTV, give them a 3-month Netflix subscription on the house.

#11-Device-limited-sales and bonuses

Note: we’ll use mobile vs. desktop as an example.

It seems counter-intuitive at first because by barring a particular type of device from getting the discount you automatically lower the number of people who could and would buy what you offer.

However, this is offset by the offer feeling more exclusive to mobile users. They will feel special and grateful to you for “choosing” them over someone else.

You’ve made the feel special, and now it’s payback time.

Hint: they will click and buy.

The device-limited bonus tactic works very well in general, but it performs exceptionally well with folks who’re in love with their smartphones.

Someone who has an Apple X and gets a discount solely because they use that phone is going to love that phone even more;

so they’re going to love you too because you just helped validate their earlier decision to shell out a tonne of money and buy the uber-expensive Apple X.

Enough theory here’s an actual example from Betfair.

Betfair is a popular online provider of desktop casino games. However, here, they ventured into the field of mobile gaming with their app that brings in exclusive features and bonuses not present in their desktop games.

So this app shells out bonuses like candy: free spins, no deposit free spins, extra wilds.

All there to indulge mobile users only.

Note: see how they make sure to point out that this app is mobile-exclusive.

mobile app just to be used by mobile phone users

#12- Seasonal offerings

Some things you can only buy at a specific season of the year.

These are products so attached to a specific part of the year that pulling them out of it and making them available year-round would make them lose their charm, their magic, and effectiveness at being sold.

Take for example pumpkin spice latte from StarBucks.

Allow me to throw in a Portuguese word randomly- this drink is a Maravilha of delight and taste.

I mean, the scent of pumpkins makes you on the inside and warm reminiscent of holidays. Thus, full of warm glee, you’re more capable of enduring the cold winter that’s approaching fast.

That’s why this drink is only available in Autumn and that’s why people obsess about it. Some love it so much that they even opened an exclusive Instagram account just for the drink.

seasonal offerings scarcity marketing tactic

It works because, when something is season-specific, it means it can’t be had in any other part of the year.

This makes it exclusive and a treat.

Bonus

Of course, it’s neither possible nor prudent to combine all 12 scarcity marketing tactics mixing two, or even 3 is a safe and effective way to boost your already boosted sales.

Combining scarcity marketing strategies for maximum effect

 

When you want to order, they tell you there are only a few items left.  So if you order right away, you can get fast shipping.

Notice that they don’t offer me one-day shipping. It’s likely because I live in Serbia and my country’s not eligible yet. However, if I were living in the USA, I’d have that option.

So, Amazon is combing faster delivery tactics with limited items left tactic, and together they perform much better than either would alone.

I think this would be even better if Amazon added real-time site activity so folks can see that others are on a hunt for these pills. That would further incentivize people to shop faster.

I know it’d affect me because I love me my Vitamin K2 pills.

Bottom line

Using any scarcity marketing strategy is better than using none.

However, combining them leads to explosive growth in sales and revenue, guaranteed.

Conclusion

Use them to your advantage or otherwise you’re leaving money on the table- simple as that.

However, While the scarcity principle is powerful, it can not replace your entire marketing strategy.

It can’t be your whole marketing strategy.

Make sure you build a great product or a service first. Then get people to come to your site and fall in love with your brand.

Get them to buy first, and then use scarcity marketing stratagems to boost your sales through the roof using upsell.

So, scarcity marketing should complement your marketing strategy and not supplant it.

Now you know everything you needed to learn but before you go and implement these strategies, leave me a comment below.

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