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Using Scarcity for Conversion

Creating scarcity for your product can help you achieve quick, high value sales. This marketing tactic creates a sense of urgency within your target market and encourages a sense of fear that they will miss out.

However, if employed incorrectly scarcity can also have a negative effect on your marketing.

Learn how your marketing can benefit from the correct methods in this blog post.


What Is Scarcity Marketing?

Scarcity marketing is the art of creating the perception or acknowledging there is a limited availability of your product. In many cases this gives your product a perceived higher value and demand can increase.

Scarcity can come in two different methods: time and quantity. Time often comes in the form of a limited time offer like a flash sale or special offer over a certain weekend. Vouchers are very good at encouraging time scarcity by having expiry dates on them.

Quantity is where demand is created by stating there is a limited number of the product for consumers. Websites like Amazon use this tactic by stating “only X number in stock” next to the product.

Both of these options create a scenario where the consumer feels they could miss out unless they act immediately. This fear seeks to drives their action, whereas no scarcity would allow them to defer their uptake of the offer and possibly abandon the purchase altogether.


The Advantages Of Scarcity Marketing

Scarcity marketing has significant advantages which many businesses use. As previously mentioned, the sense of urgency and fear which is automatically inserted into the minds of the audience is one of the biggest bonuses. However, it is not the only one.

A sense of scarcity increases the perceived value of the product. Customers are more willing to pay higher prices when there is high demand, yet limited supply, of a product.

Another benefit is the long term social trending. Selling a rare product makes it a luxury and often turns it into a status symbol. Customers will want the product because they desire the high social standing that owning that product will offer them.

Using scarcity for a short period can benefit you in the long run using this method. A good example would be the toy industry. Every year, certain toys are demanded by children, mostly because their peers want or have them. This creates a social demand which parents are always trying to fulfil, but some will not be able to.

What happens later is that another batch of the toy becomes available. Parents then rush out to ensure their child has one. In many cases, parents will be willing to spend the same high price, even if supply has increased, from the scarcity period.


Problems With Scarcity

Scarcity is not always a benefit for your business. There are different ways in which the marketing tactic can cause harm to your business and your brand.

Low value products for instance should not be included in any scarcity marketing. In this case the idea of a low value product being scarce can harm your reputation and make all your other products sell poorly.

It is also possible that creating an illusion of scarcity is seen as trickery by your audience. If you do use scarcity in your marketing plans; ensure you are not falsely claiming a limited stock or offer time.

There is also the possibility that exclusivity would lose you potential customers. This is the case in scenarios where you are dealing with luxury products and services. Scarcity may also push clients away from your brand, believing that you are unable to meet demand and therefore do not have the right professional attitude or business infrastructure.


Creating Scarcity For Your Business’ Products

Creating scarcity is a delicate balancing act and depending on what you are offering changes how you can create that sense with your audience.

For instance, creating a period of discount pricing can be done two ways. Vouchers used by supermarkets and other retailers tend to have the date which they are valid to in very small text and almost hidden to the individual. This is to encourage the reader to hold the voucher for longer to look for the date. The touching sensation increases their engagement with the voucher and improves the chances they will use it.

Online, there are a few other methods. Most brands make the news of a limited time offer obvious, either by using clear copy stating the end date or a countdown clock on the landing page.

A countdown clock can be very successful; however there have been a number of businesses who have used this to create false scarcity for their offers. When the countdown clock reached zero, it simply restarted. This tactic annoyed customers who realised the scarcity was false and brand image was damaged and sales lost as a result.

When dealing with quantities there are very clear methods, although many of them have lost their power over recent years. Using the term ‘limited stocks’ or ‘while stock lasts’ are the obvious choices. But these terms are used so often during marketing; consumers don’t expect there to be a real case of scarcity.

Instead one of the best options is to clearly state the stock level you have. Clearly saying on some ecommerce sites like EBay and Amazon that you have 5 in stock will ensure that customers buy quickly.

Taking this further you could have a responsive stock counter where when a product is bought, the stock level automatically decreases. This method is often used on TV shopping channels where purchasing levels are really high.

The final method of creating scarcity is when you have none in stock or the product is not launched yet; pre-warn your website visitors the next (or first) batch will be limited. Then you ask the visitor to leave their contact details promising to email them when new stock becomes available. This is a good method for three reasons.

  • Firstly it aids you in collecting contact details of your target market so you can cross sell to them.
  • Secondly you are gaining clear indication of what demand is for your product for future production runs.
  • Thirdly you already have a list of highly interested consumers who to sell your product to. This allows you to quickly sell stock giving you limited storage costs and quick sales.



Creating scarcity can be a really good sales tool. However, there are certain trust issues between customers and businesses which can sometimes block this method.

Therefore, businesses need to be honest in their approach of creating scarcity and carefully choose which products they will use in their scarcity marketing. Doing it right can lead to quick, high value sales and improved revenue.


Action Steps:

  • Assess how you could offer your products in a scarcity campaign.
  • Assess the risks to running that scarcity campaign and see if the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Create the campaign and monitor results.

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