The Scarcity Principle

If you watch a group children at play with a new toy, they will all want it. Just because there is only one toy, that one toy is more valuable. "It's mine!" "No - it's mine!!" It will all end in tears.

Recognise these messages?

Only 4 left in stock!

Sale ends in 2 days!

Last few remaining!

Limited edition, one of only 10 produced.

All of the above are examples of the scarcity principle at play. It is one of the 7 main methods of influence. If you'd like to know the other 6, I highly recommend Robert Cialdini's book, "Influence".

Competition drives urgency

It's a fact of human nature. Tell us what we want is scarce, tell us that other people want it too. Tell us we might not be able to have something and we want it more. Just human nature.

Ecommerce retailers can use the scarcity principle to great effect

Here's an example at TopShop...

The message here is "Only 4 left in stock".

If you are running an ecommerce business, think about how your inventory or stock can be used as tool for messaging urgency. Test different messages and see which can improve conversion.

Related article

Subscribe to

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.