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How to Profit from Scarcity

…marketers also understand that, by using the illusion of scarcity, they can accelerate demand. This false scarcity encourages us to buy sooner and perhaps to buy more than normal.

We saw two excellent examples of this effect this summer with the launches of the iPhone and the seventh Harry Potter book. In both cases, the pre-launch publicity was designed not only to fuel demand but also to create the illusion that supplies would be limited. In fact, there were very few supply shortages. In both cases, the marketers anticipated demand levels pretty well.

As the mountains of press coverage and strong opening day sales attest, the scarcity illusion strategy paid off for Apple and Potter’s publishing company. It wasn’t just direct sales of these two products that benefited from the scarcity illusion, however: The heavy crowds drove sales of related products in Apple stores and bookstores during a relatively slow sales month.

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