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3 types of scarcity marketing

3 types of scarcity marketing

Consumer psychology promotes action, and one of the biggest examples of this lies in scarcity marketing. Brands often use scarcity marketing to drive hype around their products and maintain that demand going forward.

Scarcity marketing isn’t a new strategy. It’s an extension of brain science and traditional marketing practices. And it comes in a variety of forms. 

We’ve included three of them below:


1. Time

When time is ticking, its scarcity signals one thing to consumers: They need to move quickly.

It’s no secret that nothing lasts forever and time is no exception. In B2C marketing, time scarcity is often used to promote urgency in consumers in the form of tiered rewards, expiration notifications, limited-time offers and more. Tactics like these are beneficial for a few reasons, but one of the main factors is their ability to create urgency and heightened brand awareness. 

In other words, this strategy emphasizes just how possible it is for consumers to miss out on something if they don’t act quickly. Knowing that they don’t have forever to decide on their next move can encourage consumers to take action faster than they might have otherwise.

Let’s take consumer procrastination, for example. In many cases, consumers procrastinate due to a lack of urgency. The more time they have to complete a task, the more likely they are to put it off until they can no longer do so. However, when time is fleeting, the fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator to encourage decisiveness. 

For consumers, time scarcity means getting their hands on products as soon as possible. Creating campaigns that leverage the value of time can empower consumers to make a focused effort to prioritize products and move quickly during their journey.

2. Supply

Arguably one of the most recognized and influential concepts in marketing, consumers have all come in contact with limited product supply. 

Concerns regarding supply and demand often come as a result of limited products or services. In fact, discussions around supply and demand are where scarcity marketing grew its roots. The topic was founded by Dr. Robert Cialidini, an influence and persuasion expert, who says scarcity is a large driving force for enhancing value and promoting action. 

Whether it’s an essential item for the consumer or a nice to have, scarcity can increase how desirable a product or service appears simply based on its availability. This is called customer perceived value and it can encourage fast action in those who want to buy a product or service before it’s too late. 

To leverage scarcity as it applies to supply, brands can inform consumers of how many items are available, send low-stock notifications, promote exclusive seasonal items and showcase best-selling products that may not be around for long. 

3. In-group/Exclusivity

Scarcity isn’t synonymous with traditional marketing tactics — it’s also deeply rooted in human nature. 

In everyday life, scarcity is often interchangeable with another term: exclusivity. Humans want the best of the best, and in most cases, that means having access to items that aren’t easily obtained by the majority. Instead, they’re “reserved” for a select group of people, known in psychology as an in-group, or people who met a similar set of criteria. That criteria can focus on demographics, interests, mindsets and even the brands consumers decide to shop with. 

Exclusivity gives consumers a sense of status and elevates the products they associate with certain brands. This form of scarcity marketing relies most heavily on consumer thoughts and emotions; to best make use of it, brands should first take stock of their missions, personas and the general consensus consumers have regarding the brand’s social status.  

Scarcity marketing is a trusted strategy for consumer engagement and increased conversions for many marketers. A balanced combination of B2C staples and psychological tools, scarcity marketing can be used in various ways to help brands reach their bottom line.


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.