Implementing Scarcity Marketing In a Manipulation-Free Way

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So much of the eCommerce marketing world is based on the delicate psychology of the customer. Many principles govern how companies market and sell their wares, but one of the most prevalent is a simple fact that most people want what’s difficult for them to obtain.

Scarcity marketing is an effective marketing tactic that’s built on this psychological phenomenon. It covers product, pricing, advertising, and distribution strategies by marketing a product or service as coveted, exclusive, rare, or scarce. 

A popular example is hosting an invitation-only event or offering an invite-only product or service to a select few high-profile individuals in a group. This could be a product that’s initially only released to a handful of celebrities or a technological platform that’s only available to a small number of renowned developers upon launch.

This tactic can create a sense of envy, and curiosity, within a community that’s been following a brand for a while. The goal for a business using this technique is to generate as much interest, and demand as possible as their products or services become available to the wider market.

Scarcity marketing can also play an important role in product design and the pricing of high-end goods and collectible products. In particular, collectibles may be viewed as more desirable if there’s a scarcity factor in play. 

Luxury fashion houses also often offer scarcity-fueled items like exclusive haute couture collections unique to a handful of customers. 

Non-Manipulative Scarcity Marketing

Ultimately, the premise of scarcity marketing can seem manipulative at face value. After all, you lead customers to believe that your products and services are very exclusive and governed by limited availability, even if that’s not actually the case. 

However, there are a few ways to ethically implement this marketing strategy, not to mislead your customers, all while still enjoying the benefits of the tactic.

Your goal should be to foster transparency and honesty with your customers, however possible in your business communications. If you plan on using scarcity tactics to increase demand for your products, be honest and ethical in every other facet of your operations to foster trust between yourself and the consumer. 

Here’s how…

#1: Avoid Price Manipulation

Have you noticed that most items are priced at odd numbers, such as $15.99, $587, or $999? There’s a reason behind this: price manipulation. 

This is a widespread tactic used to generate sales. When a customer sees a smaller number to the left of the price, they immediately feel like they are getting a bargain.

However, if you were to tell a friend the price of an item, chances are you’d say $300, not $299. 

To complicate things even further, our brains immediately put items into the ‘low quality and cheap category’ when we see prices listed as $149.99 instead of $150. 

To foster trust and make your products appear top-shelf, use rounded off numbers like $200 in your pricing. This tells customers that you have no interest in using marketing manipulation and that your products are of great quality and should fetch a price to match.

#2: Be Open and Ethical About Your Products

Scarcity marketing aside, your customers will trust your business more if you’re open with them about your ethical practices, products, sourcing processes, and product descriptions. 

Be open about where you source your products from any good causes you support, your ingredients and constituents, and any other product-related information.

Today’s customers are highly conscious about their shopping habits, and if you can maintain an air of honesty at all times, they will be more inclined to put their trust and money in your hands.

#3: Don’t Pressure Your Customers

Most businesses use urgency and scarcity marketing tactics to pressure their customers into buying from them. They send SMSs, emails, pop-ups, calls to action, and other messages that leave customers feeling as though they’ll miss out and be left behind if they don’t offer you their money right away.

Traditional scarcity tactics might work for some people, but many customers can be put off by the anxiety and pressure they feel when encountering them. They reinforce negative emotions of lack or failure, which your customers might eventually associate with your brand.

The good news is that you can still implement scarcity marketing without resorting to manipulating people’s emotions. You can market your products as an exclusive, limited edition, or in-demand from respected people without pushing your customers. 

Patience is key, and it will help build trust and loyalty over time as customers purchase from you without expectation.

#4: Pair Scarcity with Transparency

We’ll repeat it – transparency is crucial when implementing an ethical scarcity marketing strategy. 

For example, you could add an on-site label to one of your products, stating that there are only a few of them left and encouraging buyers to order theirs soon. 

This is a solid and effective call to action—but it should be paired with a label stating ‘More on the way!’ or something similar for transparent communication.

You could also ensure that you always have enough limited-edition stock on hand not to disappoint your regular customers while still giving them plenty of warning if the product is selling out fast. 

Some companies even release products in limited runs and then use smart social media posts to put them on sale randomly. This is an effective way to generate excitement and suspense in a fan base without leaving them feeling manipulated or annoyed.

Ethical Scarcity in a Nutshell

At the end of the day, marketing experts will almost always advise companies looking to use a scarcity model to use it responsibly. 

There’s a fine line between creating a perception of value or esteem through scarcity and stressing your customers out with unnecessary pressure. 

Your goal should be to balance making your products and services enticing and being as honest as possible with the people who hold the spending power!

Author Bio: Reese is a sales veteran and editor over at JookSMS, a messaging platform for teams and customers. Hailing from Royersford, Pennsylvania, she got her start working as a sales assistant in local advertising. Her favorite pastime is trying out new cuisines and board games.

Implementing Scarcity Marketing In a Manipulation-Free Way



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