Scarcity: A Conversation (heart)

Posted February 14, 2019

Millions across the internet have been tweetstorming as NECCO, the candy company that made those little chalky Valentine’s Day hearts, went out of business. Media outlets are lamenting about what Valentine’s Day will be like without them.

One Twitter user questioned, “Why am I so sad about this? I don’t even like the taste of them.”

Whole articles are devoted to telling users how they can get their sugary heart fix this Valentine’s Day. But, why do we care so much about these—let’s face it—not that tasty, candy hearts?

The answer: Scarcity.

In behavioral theory, scarcity is categorized as a cognitive bias. In other words, it’s a way that humans are predictably irrational. Scarcity theory says people will assume something scarce is more valuable and will be disproportionately motivated to try to acquire it.

For decades, marketers have been taking advantage of this neurological hardwiring. We’ve all seen banners for “limited time only” sales, but as technology has become more sophisticated, we are starting to see it in real time too. One example: those ticking timers on hotel selection pages, “Only 4 rooms left!”

How can we use scarcity messaging to show energy efficiency offers some love?

Instead of just asking customers to participate, reflect the limited spaces or funds available. “You’ve been selected for the pilot—only 20 slots available.” “Claim your rebate before they’re gone.”

At ILLUME, we’ve applied this tactic to research and evaluation. In a smart home products pilot, we received a high response rate with our survey research emails titled, “Don’t miss your chance to share your smart home experience.”

This Valentine’s Day, show your customers that you’re hot stuff! That what you have to offer is in demand! By adding scarcity and urgency to messaging, you can increase the offering’s perceived value to your prospects. What scarcity messaging have you used to drive demand? Please share your thoughts on LinkedIn.