YOUR COMPANY IS introducing a new product. Everyone gears up. The production line is cranking. The marketing department is letting current and potential customers know that the product will be out the first of the year, and there are plenty to be had. All is good, right?
Wrong. The marketing department should be saying that there are only a limited number available at the first of the year—and they might not be able to fill the demand.
Remember the iPhone introduction? When it came out the first time, there were long lines to get one. Remember when the 3G model came out a year or so later? Same thing: Long lines. Long waits. You can order one, but who knows when you will get it. And Apple implied there might not be enough to go around.
It is the same thing with some brands of hybrid cars. There are long waits. Yet the orders keep coming. If it’s scarce, we think it is more valuable and more desirable.
We’ll want it more.
Scarcity works—not just for products, but for information, too. We can read about trends in the computer industry online by searching for articles on Google. Or we can subscribe to a pricey series of reports that cost a lot of money and only a relatively few people get. Which source of information will we think is more accurate? More valuable? Which source will we use when it is time to take action?
Which Cookies Taste Best?
WORCHEL, LEE, AND ADEWOLE (1975) asked people to rate chocolate chip cookies. They put 10 cookies in one jar and two of the same cookies in another jar. The cookies from the two-cookie jar received higher ratings—even though the cookies were exactly the same! Not only that, but if there were a lot of cookies in the jar, and then a short time later most of the cookies were gone, the cookies that were left received an even higher rating than cookies that were in a jar where the number of cookies didn’t change
Social validation and scarcity work together (read Chapter 2, “Wanting to Belong: The Power of Social Validation,” if you have not already). If we think a lot of other people liked the cookies and that there aren’t many cookies left, it creates an even stronger pull to action.