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Understanding and Implementing the Scarcity Principle for Business

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Have you ever noticed how attractive offers are limited in time or quantity of goods? Many people know the feeling when an item becomes much more desirable just because there are only a couple of copies left or the discount ends in a few hours. And this additional “value” cannot be ignored!

Limited offers look more valuable in the eyes of buyers, which means you can use the principle of scarcity to increase sales. If you aim to push buyers into quick conversion action, a scarcity strategy will work for you. You just need to create a sense of limited product or time. We will tell you about strategies for using the principles of scarcity that you can implement in your business.

Strategies for using the scarcity principle

By creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity, businesses can effectively drive customer engagement, boost sales, and cultivate a sense of desirability for their products or services. Let’s explore 6 effective strategies for using the scarcity principle that will benefit your business.

Strategy #1: Notify clients of a limited supply

One of the most important and, perhaps, the first way that comes to mind is to show the scarcity of the product literally by adding information about the number of copies in stock to the card. The perception of limited supply triggers a fear of missing out (FOMO) among customers, compelling them to take immediate action to secure the desired product before it potentially becomes unavailable.

Amazon actively promotes this idea, encouraging customers to place orders as soon as possible while the item is still available. Moreover, by emphasizing the limited stock, businesses can create a sense of exclusivity and desirability around the product.



Strategy #2: Limiting the time to buy

Another beneficial way to use the principle of scarcity is with limited-time offers. When the user has little time to think, they are more likely to make a purchase decision and make it faster than in a normal situation. eBay is known for its countdown timers, which ignite real battles among would-be buyers when a special offer ends in minutes.

eBay’s use of countdown timers intensifies the sense of urgency and triggers a psychological response in potential buyers, prompting them to take immediate action.

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Strategy #3: Special price or discount effect for a limited time

Countdown can be used as a special price effect for a specific period. This creates a sense of urgency and compels customers to take immediate action. One effective technique is to incorporate a special price for a specific period of time with a countdown timer, as it will visually indicate the diminishing time left. For example, the Huckberry company reminded buyers that the established 25% discount applies strictly until the end of the countdown.



Strategy #4: Using the principle of social proof

This principle serves as an indicator of popularity and, most often, demand. People pay attention to other people when making a decision; they seek the support of others, counting on their, of course, more expert opinion. Sales and marketing departments that use the principle of social proof not only demonstrate the most popular products and services but also create a feeling of increased demand.

Strategy #5: Time-limited offer with fast delivery

Another way of using a timer on the site is to depend on delivery speed at the time of purchase. This strategy not only encourages faster purchase decisions but also enhances the overall customer experience by providing the added convenience of fast delivery.

Amazon actively uses a similar timer format along with other tricks to let customers know that if they make a purchase within a few hours (and occasionally minutes), the delivery will take place that (or the following) day. By integrating a timer to highlight limited-time purchase options with fast delivery, Amazon drives sales, increases customer satisfaction, and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Strategy #6: Release of limited collections

Special mention should be made of limited collections when the product is initially released in limited quantities. Many brands use this as a targeted sales strategy. Think of H&M’s collaborations with famous designers or sports brands with sports stars; precisely because of the limited number of products, such collections cause great excitement and sell out quickly. But you don’t have to be a star to enjoy the limited-edition collections.

For example, Brothers Leather Supply notifies its online visitors when products from its exclusive collection are running low to drive sales. The exclusivity of the product itself is a sales trigger. The consumer perceives such uniqueness as a status symbol, allowing him to feel special.

The principle of scarcity is a very effective means of persuasion because it can take many forms: lack of quantity, time, or information.

How scarcity marketing works

Scarcity marketing is based on a simple, overriding principle: fear motivates people to act. It can be a fear of anything: fear of missing out, fear of social embarrassment, or fear of being afraid of color. Take Disney Storage, for example. For decades, Disney has locked up its classic films. Then, they opened the vault and re-released specific titles for a limited time. If you want a copy of your favorite children’s movie, you should buy it during this period; otherwise, you’ll miss out.

It’s a simple strategy, but it’s so well designed and executed that every new release attracts the next generation of buyers. Consequently, Disney films have a special, almost sacred place in the American household, all because of scarce marketing. The secret to Disney’s success is that things become commodities when they are always available.

However, it becomes special when something is only available for a limited time or in limited quantities. We care a lot more about things that are hard to get or replace, making those things more valuable to us.


While the current consumer mindset is probably best described as “Give it to me now”, you can still use scarcity to get more out of your marketing. Recent changes in consumer expectations seem to have increased the effectiveness of scarcity marketing.

However, scarcity marketing only works if you do it right. Suppose you try to create scarcity around a product or service that is widely available or lacks an element of uniqueness or quality. In that case, you will simply end up drawing potential customers elsewhere.

By understanding and implementing effective scarcity marketing tactics, businesses can increase sales, improve customer engagement and loyalty, gain a competitive advantage, and build their brand image.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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