Persuasion Psychology:

Scarcity and Exclusivity

By Sarah Jamieson

Persuasion Psychology - Scarcity and Exclusivity: Scarcity triggers an emotion response because we find it hard to resist wanting things that are scarce. Scarcity floods us with emotions and generally makes clear thinking difficult.

Most people have an innate view that scarcity increases value.

If something is only available in limited quantities or for a limited time, we make a mental shortcut and assume it is more valuable and of higher quality - because it’s harder to get.

Following on from this, scarcity also increases desire. If we know we can’t have something, we want it even more. Knowing that something is about to be withdrawn from our grasp increases our desire for it and we act to secure it for ourselves.

Often this reaction is so strong that we become desperate to get things we wouldn’t even want if they weren’t scarce.

Scarcity also increases fear of loss. People fear missing out on an opportunity. In fact, fear of loss has been shown to be a more powerful motivator than desire for gain.

Scarcity operates for physical products and information. My own online research and experience clearly shows that when access to a message is limited, customers have a stronger desire to receive it and also are more persuaded by it.

I use scarcity is an effective marketing tactic to:

  • Get prospects to buy now. If they decide to leave and think about it they’ll probably never come back!
  • Get customers to value the product more. This can translate into eventually accepting a higher price and feeling more satisfied with the product.

I’ve found that scarce items will be seen as more valuable when they have recently become scarce, rather than if they have always been in short supply.

In addition, my online experience shows that scarce items become even more desirable when prospects have to compete with other people.

Thus the most common ways to use scarcity in online marketing are:

  • Limited quantities: There are only a limited number of copies of a product available or being currently released.
  • Exclusivity: You can also play on the benefits of being part of an exclusive group that has access to the product
  • Deadline: There is a fast-approaching date when a product will be withdrawn or the price will be raised.

But it’s not only persuasion principles that trigger a purchase. Let’s look at Why Buyers Buy!

Persuasion Psychology > Persuasion as Mental Shortcuts > Favor Reciprocation > Commitment and Consistency > Social Proof > Liking and Partiality > Authority and Influence > Scarcity and Exclusivity

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