By Abby Carter
I am a self-confessed, fully-fledged “hype beast”, I love scarcity shopping, I check all of the unofficial Instagram accounts that announce Supreme leaks, I know what’s dropping and I know what I’m shopping for. I’m not interested in registering for a raffle or exploring a pre-sale route. I have genuine fashion FOMO and I don’t like competing with BOTS.
As a trained marketeer I should know better, but I am a marketeer’s dream customer. I am sold on the idea of limited offers and limited product run and I love the idea of owning something exclusive. This behaviour made me a very early adopter of YEEZY’s and a Supreme fanatic.
As a sneaker head and trainer collector, I used to queue outside department stores and specialist shops to ensure I got the shoe I really wanted. I had to be at the front to get my size, so I arrived early and the buzz was electric. I shop trainers less frequently now since the market has become saturated with over engineered collab; expensive resellers; and computer programmers making a fast buck from BOTS that only take an interest in the money and not the shoe. I would rather wear my nine year old Jordan Son of Mars that are still box fresh and no one owns, than buy into the current wave of brand new Jordan 1’s sweeping Stock X with resale values of well over 500%.
Scarcity is a poweful market driver, driving a sensation that the more limited a product is, the more attractive and the more in demand it will be. The principal of high demand, low supply is basic economics. The rarer the piece, the more difficult it is to obtain and that means the stronger the demand and thus, the higher the price. It’s not just the trainer industry that have adopted this model. Airlines and hotel websites will appeal to the urgency to purchase with “only one left at this price” pop ups and notes on products, forcing the customer to think “we should buy now and not risk missing out”. And don’t even get me started on the PlayStation 5 release.
This theory of creating desire is as old as marketing itself with the classic AIDA model. However, creating intense desire for a product doesn’t work for every brand. Product has to be scarce to activate the supply and demand economic model. If you don’t ensure scarcity, you will do more brand damage than good and reputation will be tarnished.
Furthemore, you cannot use scarcity as your “go to market” strategy. Your product offering, pricing and brand strategy should include value and quality. If you are paying over the odds for exclusivity then ensure it’s built to last. Your communication style must be considered as well, be clear and be concise, the model you are adopting can make your shopper anxious so building trust is critical.
Planning is key, so consider how you will build momentum to create intense desire. Some tactics that have been proven include count down clocks; pre-launch emails; leaks of colourways and styles to verified Instagram fan pages; real-time stock updates; and limited availability alerts.
Can this help boost your sales? Definitely. Will it fix flagging sales? Not a hope.
Nothing will replace building a highly engaged audience; developing a strong brand strategy; understanding your customer; and valuing their loyalty. Nike have recently shared the way their algorithm works on their SNKRS app. This will ensure that the most engaged fans will stand a better chance of access to the most exclusive items over those trying to trick the system. Thus rewarding genuine fans with high content engagement. This level of transparency makes me feel valued, but I am still skeptical about how to beat the BOTS?
Is the way the market operates today devaluing the interest in scarcity shopping? Not yet, but, it can’t last forever. Rewarding brand loyalty and producing a truly quality product; alongside a considered brand strategy is paramount to long term success. Building a customer lifecycle programme that makes the consumer feel valued and engaged no matter the price of the product will stand the test of time.
However, if you are going to embrace the power of scarcity shopping do ensure your offer is genuinely scarce and genuinely delivering real value.