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Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

People always desire for the things they can’t have because green is always greener on the other side. Many marketers are using scarcity marketing for a very long period of time and the reason is very simple, It Works. Scarcity marketing comes into action when you want to set your brand apart from the competition and attract a large audience.

When you limit the display of the stock of your product, it suddenly becomes more precious in the eyes of the customer. The fear of missing out on limited supply makes your customers buy quickly and possibly with lesser thought.

Scarcity Marketing is basically of four types that marketers use it in.

  1. Exclusivity
  2. Rarity
  3. Excess Demand
  4. Urgency


You must have encountered some products that have a very high price tag linked to it. They launch their product in a particular area, or for a particular target audience only. It’s not because they don’t want to sell their product to everyone, it’s because they want to make their product exclusive which only a certain number of people can afford. 

Let’s understand it better with some examples.

1. Pappy Van Winkle

Exclusive marketing

Pappy Van Winkle is a whiskey connoisseur’s dream. It produces only 7000 cases each year, and people pay hundreds of dollars a bottle just to get a taste of it. Supply is so limited that liquor shop holders auction these bottles if they are lucky to get a hands-on on this product.

2. Google

Exclusive marketing

You might remember that Gmail launched google+ in 2011 for invite-only: Users had to be invited by Google or by friends who shared an invitation with them. Under this system of exclusivity, 10 million users joined Google’s social network in just two weeks. More than 100 million users were daily active users on google+, and it was in competition with other popular networks for users’ attention.

Rarity Marketing

Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between exclusivity marketing and rarity marketing. These both go hand-in-hand. Making a product rare also require to raise its market status very high. It’s important to make your brand supreme before making your product rare. Let’s understand it better with some examples.

3. McDonald’s Szechuan sauce

Rarity marketing

When a sci-fi cartoon “Rick and Morty” features Szechuan sauce in one of its episodes, McDonald’s brought back it’s limited-edition Szechuan sauce in limited quantity for one day only. All the foodies and fans stood in a queue for hours just to get this limited edition. Some customers resell it online for hundreds of dollars.  

4. Snap Inc.

Rarity marketing

Snap Inc released Snapchat sunglasses that could record a 10-second video from the vision of the wearer. But instead of selling the new gadget online, sunglasses were initially sold via smiling Snapbots which were a vending machine placed randomly in cities around the United States.

rarity marketing

Excess Demand Marketing

Many times, the product is not scarce but due to its high demand, it becomes popular and sales start to go up. There are no tricks, no limited edition, no fake newsletters, or no exclusivity is involved. It’s simple demand and supply.

Here is a very popular example of the same.

 5. Mondo

Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

Mondo produced a poster of “The Lego Movie” in limited runs of 400-500, priced from $40-$90.

They would only announce the sale a day before via newsletter or twitter. So, people have to be active on both platforms.

Finally, the tweet arrives…

Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

And, right after 4 min, this was the next tweet.

Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

The twitter account of Mondo has 53,000 followers, and a maximum of them are driven to the purchasing site right after the announcement. If there were enough number of Tees available, the posters would lose their credibility. They wouldn’t be as rare. They wouldn’t be as scarce. People wouldn’t care so much.

Urgency Marketing

This time, it’s no scarcity in the number of products, but actually scarcity in the duration of the sale. There lies an urgency to purchase the product. If you limit the time of sales, you are actually limiting the time people think about purchasing that product. Here are some examples.

6. Starbucks

Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

Starbucks recently launched its new beverage, “unicorn Frappuccino” — made of ice cream, fruit flavors, and sour candy. It was a perfect brightly colored, highly Instagrammable drink. Starbucks posted on its website that the drink will be available for only a few days. Starbucks was drowned by unicorn Frappuccino orders – which were sold on the very first day. There are no sales numbers available for the specialty drink yet, but there are nearly 160,000 #unicornFrappuccino posts on Instagram.


Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

TOMS donates a pair to a child in need, for every pair of shoes purchased. TOMS partnered with other advocacy organizations to share sales revenue to benefit worthy causes.

TOMS created this mini-site stating the purpose of partnering with TOMS and WildAid It also states some fun facts about pandas. Once people are aware of this part, TOMS revealed that the shoes are only available for a limited time.

Why and When to use Scarcity Marketing? Check this out!

Scarcity marketing helps your brand to target more customers. But, if your brand is not exclusive, then Scarcity marketing is not going to make you one. You need to make real promises and not fake ones. This will only degrade the trust customers have on your brand. Wrong use of scarcity marketing can also affect your brand’s reputation and positioning in the market.

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