What is scarcity marketing. 10 easy tactics


Why Marketers Use Scarcity Strategies

Marketing specialists are constantly seeking new strategies to increase product or service reach, reduce purchase friction, ensure a good ROI in terms of reach, engagement, etc., thereby providing their companies with more advantages in disseminating the marketing message.

Today, we’ll discuss the techniques of urgency and scarcity and how they can be instrumental in boosting your business sales.

¿What Is Scarcity in Marketing?

Scarcity in digital marketing is a tactic that creates a sense of product shortage, signaling the importance of making a prompt purchase before missing the opportunity to acquire the item.

This can be a perceived scarcity, but when used transparently to show the actual stock quantity, it can be highly effective.

Urgency as a Strategy

Urgency, a time-based strategy, instills in customers a fear of missing out on an offer or the purchase of a desired product, thereby motivating them to make a purchase within set time constraints.

It can be employed in various scenarios, such as reviving interest in a product experiencing a sales dip, using quick-purchase CTA buttons, or indicating on a website exactly how many items remain.

Scarcity acts as a psychological trigger, creating a perception that few desired items are left and will soon run out, potentially increasing their perceived value and further motivating purchases. It may also suggest that the item is scarce due to its high quality and popular demand.

This tactic can be highly persuasive in encouraging customers to buy before a product or service runs out.

Why Companies Use Scarcity Strategies

Companies often utilize scarcity marketing to create a sense of urgency in customers, prompting them to purchase before a product runs out or a discount expires. When customers realize that something is about to be unavailable, they are more inclined to make a purchase to secure the product before it’s gone. As a marketing specialist, highlighting product scarcity or limited-time discounts can drive more sales by motivating customers to act swiftly.

Pros and cons of using scarcity strategies

To better understand how scarcity marketing can impact your business, consider these benefits and disadvantages of the practice:


Here are some benefits of using scarcity marketing:

  1. Creates More Demand for Certain Products: Scarcity marketing often creates higher demand for your products by reducing their availability and increasing their exclusivity. This demand can help spread awareness of your products as customers share your limited-time items or discounts with friends, making interested buyers more excited about the product’s uniqueness or price.
  2. Motivates Customers to Buy Rather Than Wait: Some customers like to ponder a purchase for a long time before deciding to buy, but this often leads to the customer forgetting about the product. With scarcity marketing, you can create a stronger sense of urgency to motivate these customers to make a purchase before the product or discounted price disappears.
  3. Improves Your Company’s Visibility Through Referrals: Customers often share information about exclusive deals and items with their friends and family, so using scarcity tactics and advertisements can increase your company’s visibility and grow your customer base. Utilizing online scarcity indicators like timers and low-stock displays with digital marketing can enhance this shareability.


Consider these disadvantages when using scarcity marketing:

  1. Diverts Attention from the Product: Urgent marketing can sometimes divert attention away from the products if you make the timers and stock limitations too evident or focus on exclusivity rather than utility. Try to balance your scarcity marketing techniques with information about the product quality, how it can benefit the customer’s life, and the value it brings.
  2. Pressures Customers: While scarcity marketing can excite some buyers, it can pressure other customers into making purchases and may deter them from buying due to potential challenges. To address this, you might opt to use scarcity tactics infrequently to make them more special and allow customers time to make purchases.
  3. Doesn’t Always Increase Customer Base: While scarcity marketing techniques and materials can increase your customer base when shared on social media or among friends, some buyers may only make a one-time purchase and not become loyal customers. Counter this by sending some discounts only to current customers, such as those on your email list.

How to Design a Scarcity Strategy

The key issue is that many marketers mistakenly believe discounts are the main trigger, when in reality, it’s the urgency of the offer. Consequently, they discount their new products, despite claiming they are the best in the market. If the product is that good, why offer a discount? The truth is there are other ways to use scarcity without having to lower your product’s price, unless the goal is not to sell but to capture data. However, remember that scarcity is a sales strategy, not a lead generation tactic.

For instance, limited product availability works well without discounts (if not better).

Scarcity Strategies You Can Implement

1. Nearly Sold Out Products

One way to use scarcity marketing in an online store is to show that a product is nearly sold out or has low inventory. You can use software to display real-time low stock alerts on your company’s website, so customers can always see when there’s little left of a product to buy. This can encourage indecisive customers to make a purchase before the product runs out, useful for those who usually wait to buy and forget about the product in their daily activities.

2. Cart Timers

You can use cart timers to reserve a customer’s cart for a set amount of time before someone else can purchase the items in it. This is particularly effective for limited or low-inventory products, as customers need to make a quick decision about purchasing the item rather than leaving it in their cart and waiting. With this technique, you can add a real-time cart timer on your company’s website and send an email to customers when their cart is about to expire to motivate them to complete their purchase.

3. Early Access Discounts

Early access discounts are time-limited price reductions on pre-orders of products or special promotions for loyal customers to get an item before others. These discounts encourage customers to buy a product before the discount expires and others can access the item, potentially leading to quicker sell-outs. A good way to utilize early access discounts is to send emails to existing customers with the promotion details and place a banner on your website or at your physical store location with the end date of the discount.

4. Limited-Time Bonus Items

Use this tactic when you have many small products to sell or during the holiday season to encourage shoppers to spend a certain amount of money. When customers spend that amount in your store, they can get limited-time bonus items. A tactic like this helps you sell more products using low-cost or excess inventory items that don’t result in a loss for your company. This is particularly useful during the gift-giving holidays, as shoppers can enjoy getting more products to give away.

5. Same-Day or Next-Day Delivery Counters

Some online retailers offer same-day or next-day delivery for products ordered before a certain time, and this scarcity tactic often encourages customers to make a purchase sooner to receive their items more quickly. It can also motivate them to buy more items at once, as many companies offering deliveries also have a free delivery minimum. You can use this technique by displaying a timer on your website’s checkout page that tells shoppers how much time they have left to make a purchase for quick delivery.

6. Special Edition Products

Another scarcity tactic that can work for your company is selling special edition or exclusive products, which create instant value due to their limited supply and high demand. You might also consider collaborating with other companies or popular public figures to create exclusive items that appeal to multiple audiences and broaden your potential customer base. To leverage special edition products in your favor, try to build excitement about the item launch in advance to ensure as many people as possible know about these products when they become available.

7. Platform-Exclusive Offers

Platform-exclusive offers refer to deals that customers can only obtain through certain platforms, like discounts for purchases made through an app or sales available only on a website. Rather than limiting the quantity of products available for people to buy, these offers focus on how long a discount lasts and how customers can access that discount. Such a tactic can help your company gain more users on different platforms, particularly useful for mobile apps as it provides shoppers easy access to your store wherever they go.

8. Purchase Countdown Timers

Some businesses benefit from using purchase countdown timers or timers on products, especially if those products are on auction. On your website, you can add a clock that counts down to the time when an item is no longer available for sale, increasing the customer’s urgency to purchase the item before it’s gone. This can also create more competition for auction items and drive up the price as more customers bid, resulting in more revenue for you and greater value for similar products in the market.

9. Seasonal Products

Selling limited-time seasonal products can help your company make more sales during certain times of the year and create excitement each season when new products are launched or the same high-demand products from the previous year are reintroduced. Depending on the type of business you work for, you can market things like food and beverages, clothing and accessories, or seasonally useful items to attract customers who need or want these special items at different times of the year. Often, shoppers excited about seasonal products also recommend those items to their friends, further expanding your customer base.

10. Popular or High-Demand Products

Another way to use scarcity marketing to boost sales is by adding a feature to online product descriptions showing how many customers are interested in a product. This can mean displaying the number of people who have viewed the item, added it to their cart, or marked it as “liked” on the website. While you may not be limiting the actual quantity of products available beyond the norm, customers might want the product more because they see it is popular and could run out at some point.

Juan Esteban Yepes

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