Scarcity Revisited

Readers, if you haven’t been to grocery store or a gas station lately, heads up! The Cadbury cream eggs are back! For a limited time only! No, but seriously, they really are here for a limited time only, hence the title, “Scarcity Revisited”. I wrote a post about the Starbucks seasonal offerings a few months ago, and seeing the Cadbury egg put scarcity right in the front of my mind.

The scarcity effect makes people radically alter their behavior. My husband is in a body building phase, so he’s on a strict diet and exercise regimen to craft the optimal physique. And, he’s hardcore… counting calories, graphs, intermittent fasting, the works. Guess what got to him? That’s right, the Cadbury cream egg. And, it wasn’t just one bite… no, he had to buy three, because they were on sale, buy 2-get 1 free. So, now we’ve got scarcity AND “deal” syndrome kicking his calorie-counting, well-sculpted butt! (Sorry, but the guy has been doing a ridiculous amount of squats, if I’m going to mention him in the article, I should make note of the effects of his training. That and the phrasing just works for that sentence, so it’s a win all around. Just sayin’!). Humans are hard-wired to see “deal” and “limited time” and automatically start into purchase mode. Sure, we know that the cream eggs will be around again next year, and at most places, they cost less than a dollar, so the savings isn’t a huge sum. But, it’s not necessarily about the money or the timing, it’s about the overwhelming need to make sure we don’t miss out on an opportunity.

Scarcity is a great tool for marketers, and in this case, it worked as intended: they picked up new customers who wouldn’t otherwise have made a purchase from the brand. What “limited time” offer broke your New Year’s resolution?

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