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Scarcity is a great motivator. As things become less available, they become more desirable. There are at least three reasons for this:

  1. Social Proof:
    Others are trying to buy it, so “it must be good”.
  2. Urgency: If it’s scarce, you might not get another chance to buy it.
  3. Psychological Reactance: When we’re told we can’t have something, we want it that much more. (Think of what happens when you tell a child he can’t play with a certain toy.)

What’s even more interesting, is that if information is perceived as scarce (i.e. it’s secret or forbidden information), it seems much more important and trustworthy.

In a fascinating study*, buyers of beef were told that supplies were going to be scarce. They ordered twice as much beef, which isn’t surprising.

But when they were told that the information that supplies were going to be scarce came from an exclusive source, they ordered 6 times as much beef!

So to increase sales:

  • Position your products as scarce, running out fast.
  • Where possible, indicate that information comes from an exclusive source.


*Knishinsky, A. (1982) “The Effects of Scarcity of Material and Exclusivity of Information on Industrial Buyer Perceived Risk in Provoking a Decision.” Doctoral Dissertation, Arizona State University.



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