Buyer Beware: Scarcity drives consumers’ purchases

Everyone knows the sinking feeling you get when you go to a shop and realize that the one thing you’re looking for isn’t there, or rather has already been bought by someone else.

The popularity of items in stores is one thing that everybody thinks about when making an expensive purchase, whether it be the brand or the quality, everybody wants what’s popular, simply because it’s popular.

But remarkably, sometimes the quality of the product isn’t the biggest factor in desirability. The scarcity of an item can also make it popular. If you know there aren’t many of them, then your brain automatically thinks that the item is better than the rest. Our brains are wired to believe that the harder it is to obtain something, the more valuable it must be.

An example is when anticipated books or video games release the option to preorder, months before the actual release date. When you hear that some people are claiming ownership before it’s release, the sensible thing to do is to pre-order the book or game as well, to make sure you receive a copy.

A real life example of a company practicing scarcity selling is The Fifth Watch line that only sells their watches on the fth of the month, for ve days. The scarcity of their watches leads the buyers to believe that their products are better than others. The Fifth Watch line made a total of $100,000 in sales on the rst day of release in December 2014.

Another way bigger and more popular companies make use of scarcity selling is by using their popularity to release practically the same product every year. Apple is one of the most popular cell phone companies, and it releases new products every year with slight improvements, just to sell them at almost double the price of the previous phone.

People buy these phones every year regardless of the price and the slight improvements because they believe that Apple is the best because of the overwhelming popularity behind their name and reputation.

Many companies also like to release their big and brand new products right before Christmas on Black Friday. The possibility of purchasing a brand new popular gadget at a reduced cost and on limited quantity, is what fuels most Americans to wait outside in the freezing cold, for a few hours in line, just to get the latest iPhone.

However there are the lucky few who manage to find the same deals on Cyber Monday, all from the comfort of their home.

Wherever shoppers are when the fever for making impulsive purchases descends, they should always beware of the irrational powers that may be in play before they pull out their credit cards.

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