Scarcity Marketing Made Simple: How-To Guide For 2022

July 1, 2022

Chances are, you’ve been the victim of scarcity marketing. Think about it: When was the last time you were online shopping, and a pop-up message informed you that there were only three items left in stock? Or you saw an offer with a countdown clock to create a sense of urgency? 

You’re not alone. Nearly every notable brand out there has used these tactics (sometimes without even realizing it). That’s because promotional emails that apply a sense of urgency result in 14% higher click-to-open rates than average. 

When items are scarce, they appear more valuable to consumers. This is known as the scarcity principle, and it is why many marketing campaigns promote limited supply or quantities. 

To easily apply scarcity marketing to your business, scroll through this step-by-step guide. We’ve broken down the exact steps needed to build campaigns with a sense of urgency. 

After reading this guide, you’ll understand:

  • How scarcity marketing works
  • The different forms of scarcity marketing 
  • How to apply scarcity marketing tactics

There’s only so much time in the day, so let’s get to it!

What Is Scarcity Marketing?

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Scarcity marketing is a tactic used by retailers to create a sense of urgency through limited availability of a product or service. By making customers believe that they may miss out on something if they don’t act fast, retailers can encourage them to make impulse purchases. 

Scarcity marketing often relies on the fear of missing out or FOMO. This is the feeling of anxiety that comes from thinking you might not be able to experience something fun or valuable that others are having. FOMO is a powerful emotion, and it can be harnessed by retailers to increase conversions.

For example, if you’re selling tickets to an event and there are only 10 left, this creates a sense of urgency for potential buyers to get their tickets before they sell out. This sense of urgency is also the secret to the success of limited-time offers.

When customers feel that they only have a small amount of time to purchase your products, they will act faster to secure a deal. With such a wide range of opportunities to apply scarcity tactics to, it is important to narrow down the correct process. Let’s take a look at exactly how to create your own scarcity marketing campaign.

Step 1: Identify The Strengths & Flaws Of Scarcity Marketing

When used correctly, scarcity marketing can be a powerful tool to help boost sales and encourage customers to take action. But it’s important to use this technique sparingly and only when it makes sense for your product or service.

As mentioned before, when there are limited quantities of a product available the perceived value will increase. This is the primary benefit of scarcity marketing: it turns your product into a hot commodity. 

Increases perceived valueDoes not work for every target audience 
Drives engagement and interestCan come off as inauthentic
Builds brand loyalty Exclusivity could lead to a loss of customers

Step 2: Choose A Scarcity Marketing Type To Use

There’s more to scarcity marketing than limited offers and time-limited deals. In fact, there are numerous strategies and tactics involved in making it work. The key is knowing which ones to use in order to get the best results for your business.

1. Early Exclusive Discounts

Early Exclusive Discounts

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We all love to feel like we are part of an exclusive club, so why not create an exclusive offer for your products?

Early exclusive discounts are a great way to get members to sign up for your new products or service. Offering exclusive discounts only to “VIP” members will create a sense of exclusivity that increases customers’ desire for your products.

2. Limited Inventory Strategy

Out of Stock

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Did you know that customers are more likely to purchase an item if it is low stock? It’s true! Studies have shown that customers are 30% more likely to purchase a product when they believe it will sell out.

That’s why retailers love to use limited inventory as a way to spur customers to action. By mentioning that a product is running low, they can increase the amount customers are willing to spend on it.

If you’re buying a car, for example, and the salesperson tells you that there are only a few left in the color you want, you’re likely to be more willing to pay a higher price for it.

The same is true for limited-time offers and discounts. If you see an item that’s discounted but only for a limited time, you’re more likely to buy it immediately rather than wait and see if the price drops again.

There are many great examples of time-sensitive offers you can use for your business. Hop on over to our eCommerce guide to limited-time offers to read more!

3. Limited Editions

Limited Edition Items

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Creating a limited edition product is a great way to generate excitement and interest from customers. Big-name brands like McDonalds use this marketing strategy frequently and to a huge benefit. In fact, McDonald’s limited-edition collaboration with the Korean pop group BTS saw their global sales increase by 40%.  

The key to generating these outstanding effects is to create a campaign that is time-limited and special to your customers. Make sure that customers understand that the product is only available for a limited time. This will help increase the perceived value of your product and encourage customers to purchase it before it’s gone forever.

4. Platform/Device Exclusivity

Exclusivity Deals

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Speaking of big name collaborations, we can’t forget the importance of exclusive partnerships. This is another form of scarcity marketing that I’m sure you’ve experienced frequently. 

For example, let’s say you’re a die-hard Apple fan. When the new iPhone comes out, you’d be tempted to pre-order the phone. But what if pre-ordering was the only way to get the newest pair of Beats by Dre headphones to go along with your new phone? Chances are this limited-time collaboration would push you closer to making the purchase.

Of course, not all partnerships have to be as exclusive as the one between Apple and Beats by Dre. Sometimes, companies will team up to offer a product that’s only available for a limited time. This could be something as small as a free t-shirt with purchase or something bigger like a free trip to Hawaii. 

These types of partnerships are beneficial for both parties involved because it leverages the power of both brand names. This taps into the loyal customer base of the combined brands and further increases their exposure while also driving sales.

5. Purchase Timers

Countdown Timers

Purchase timers are a scarcity marketing strategy that can be used to drive customers to purchase a product or service. This is an effective way to increase sales, as customers may feel they need to act quickly to get the best deal.

Countdown timers can also be used as a way to create FOMO (fear of missing out). By showing how much time is left until a sale ends or an item runs out of stock, businesses can entice customers to buy now instead of waiting. This can be especially effective during holiday sales, like Black Friday, or other times when demand is high.

7. Seasonal Products

Seasonal Products

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Seasonal products and services can be a great way to connect with certain markets. By offering products or services that are only available for a limited time, you can encourage potential customers to buy now. This can be especially effective during holidays when people are already in a spending mood.

Offering seasonal products can also help you stand out from the competition. If everyone is selling the same thing, why not offer something unique that people can only get for a limited time? This can help you attract new customers and build brand loyalty.

So if you’re looking for a way to boost sales and stand out from the crowd, consider offering seasonal products or services. Just make sure to let your customers know when they’ll be available so they don’t miss out!

8. High-Demand Item Selling

High-Demand Item Selling

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A common digital marketing tactic is to insist that a product is in high demand and may soon run out. This uses the power of social proof and scarcity to increase the effect. 

By telling users that lots of other people are interested in an item, you create a sense of urgency that encourages them to buy it before it disappears.

Similarly, by artificially limiting the number of items available, you make each one seem more valuable. This is the same principle that drives auction prices sky-high. When demand is high and supply is low, buyers are willing to pay more.

Of course, this only works if there really is high demand for the product. If you try to fake scarcity, users will see right through it. So only use this tactic if you really do have a hot item on your hands.

Step 3: Avoid 5 Common Scarcity Marketing Mistakes

To recap, scarcity marketing is when marketers create a sense of urgency or shortage in order to get customers to buy now instead of later. And while it can be effective if done right, it often backfires spectacularly. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with using these types of promotions, and as you’ve seen in our examples, they can be quite effective in getting people to take action. The problem arises when businesses go too far and end up crossing the line into unethical territory. 

Here are some of the most common mistakes we see businesses making with their scarcity marketing campaigns:

I. Abusing Item Scarcity

Scarcity Marketing Abuse

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When product scarcity is used too frequently or in a ham-fisted manner, it can quickly backfire. Consumers may become frustrated with constantly being bombarded with “limited stock” offers, and may start to feel like they’re being manipulated.

Scarcity marketing should be used wisely, and only at decisive moments when the market is most vulnerable to it. You want your discounted prices to be viewed as novel, rather than a constant occurrence, because otherwise customers will never feel the push to buy now. By using scarcity sparingly, businesses can create a sense of urgency that drives sales and increases conversion rates without turning off their customers

II. Always Marketing “Exclusivity”

While exclusive product offerings can work in your favor and increase the perceived value of a product, they can also do the complete opposite.

When customers feel that a brand is too exclusionary, they will take their business elsewhere. Overusing exclusivity can result in dramatic decreases in brand loyalty and customer retention rates, so it’s important to use this tactic sparingly and only under certain conditions.

When done correctly, an exclusive product can add value and excitement, but when done wrong, it can damage your brand and reputation. Be sure to consider all the possible outcomes before implementing an exclusivity strategy.

III. Using It On Multiple Products

Multiple Product Usage

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While there are many marketing examples of the benefits of limited quantity sales, there can always be too much of a good thing. Remember: your customers are not dumb.  

When you try to milk the scarcity marketing tactic on multiple products at the same time, they’ll see right through it. Not only will this damage your company’s reputation, but it’ll also be confusing for consumers who wouldn’t be able to choose which one to prioritize first. The key is moderation. 

IV. Quality Needs To Be Delivered

There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by a sudden influx of orders. Whether it’s due to a well-executed scarcity marketing campaign or just plain old good luck, if you’re not prepared to handle the volume, things can quickly get out of hand.

Of course, this is all assuming that you actually have the product in stock and are able to fulfill the orders. Nothing will frustrate customers more than being promised a product that’s “going fast” only to find out that it’s out of stock and won’t be available for weeks.

If you’re going to use scarcity marketing techniques, make sure you have the infrastructure in place to support a sudden surge in demand. Otherwise, you risk damaging your relationships with customers and ruining your reputation.

V. Extending Time Offers

If there’s one thing that should never be scarce in your scarcity marketing campaigns, it`s clear and concise communication. Being clear on the limited number of products available will work in your favor – but only if you stick to your original plan. 

Some businesses can get too excited with their successful campaigns and end up extending or even adding to their offers. But this can be a bad idea, as it can lead consumers to think that the “special time” offer isn’t special at all due to extensions or that “limited products” are still being distributed. 

So, when running a sale, be clear and concise with your messaging, and stick to your original plan! Otherwise, you might end up just frustrating your customers.


When it comes to marketing, creating a sense of scarcity can be a powerful tool. Scarcity marketing is all about making your product or service seem more valuable by creating a sense of urgency.

When done properly, scarcity marketing can be an effective way to boost sales and encourage customers to take action. However, it’s important to be careful when using this tactic. If not done correctly, you can easily alienate your customers and damage your brand reputation.

Speaking of making your product or service seem more valuable by creating a sense of urgency….have you read our Ultimate eCommerce Guide to Limited Time Offers? 

We cover eight creative examples of limited-time sales campaigns and outline the best practices and platforms for promoting your own limited-time offers. Check it out!