Scarcity: the fear of missing a chance will make us act immediately (and without thinking too much about it)

Scarcity…

What is it?

The sixth ? and final ? principle defined by Robert B. Cialdini refers to the potential that scarcity has to achieve immediate persuasion. Anything which is exclusive and limited (in number and time) will make us act ?right then and there?.

How does it work?

The principle of scarcity is based on the increased value that things take on when we are told that they won?t always be available. The idea of loss plays a very important part in the decision-making process, because we feel more motivated when we are afraid of losing something than when perceive a possible gain.

This principle basically works for two reasons:

1.- If a thing is harder to get it may be because it is better than something else. This is a short-cut to making a decision to buy it.

2.- If we can?t buy something, we feel that we are being deprived of our freedom to choose. This will make us feel more strongly that we want it.

The psychologist Stephen Worchel conducted tests to see how this principle worked by asking people to evaluate the quality of some biscuits. The biscuits came in two different types of packaging: a box of 10 or a packet of 2. The quality of the biscuits was perceived to be higher when they were in the packet of 2, demonstrating the validity of the principle. But Worchel didn?t stop there with his experiment, and also investigated whether the principle works better when product scarcity is constant or recent. The results showed that the principle of scarcity works best with products which have recently become scarce.

How can we apply this?

Exclusiveness: exclusive products. “I wanted that bag!” Etsy sells crafted products online and always has very few in stock. When you see something you like, you feel the pressure to say so immediately. Otherwise, you won?t find it again.

Limitation: it won’t always be there. Obama asks his sympathisers to make one last-ditch attempt to get funds for the Democratic party primary elections by offering a last chance to give money, limiting it to the end of May. Although he may continue to collect money on 1 June, the deadline generates a feeling of urgency among his sympathisers, who don?t want to miss this ?last chance?.

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