The Power of Scarcity in Business

Oct 9, 2023


The Power of Scarcity in Business


In the fast-paced world of business, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is the procrastination of potential customers. It's all too common for people to put off their purchasing decisions unless they feel a compelling reason to act immediately. As a businessperson, the last thing you want is for "later" to turn into "never" when it comes to your customers. So, how can you motivate your audience to take action promptly? The answer lies in harnessing the psychological phenomenon of scarcity.

The Scarcity Effect

Scarcity is a potent psychological trigger that compels individuals to make decisions swiftly. When something is scarce, the fear of missing out takes over, making waiting seem like a risky choice. This innate human tendency to value scarce items more highly can be a valuable tool in your business arsenal. By incorporating a scarcity element into your offers, you can prompt potential customers to act immediately, driven by the fear of losing out on something valuable.

Case in Point: Tickle Me Elmo

To illustrate the power of scarcity, let's take a trip down memory lane to the holiday season of 1996. During that time, Tickle Me Elmo, a beloved character from Sesame Street, became the hottest toy on every child's wishlist. While Elmo was already a popular character, what fueled the buying frenzy was the limited availability of the toy. Parents went to great lengths, spending hundreds of dollars on eBay and mobbing retailers when new stock became available. This irrational behavior demonstrates the immense impact that scarcity can have on consumer decisions.

Adding Scarcity to Your Offer

Now that we understand the significance of scarcity, let's explore some practical ways to incorporate it into your business strategies:

  1. Limited Quantities: Inform prospects that you have a limited number of units available for sale. This scarcity factor can ignite a sense of urgency and exclusivity, prompting customers to act quickly.
  2. Price Increases: Notify prospects that the price of your product or service will increase in the near future. This motivates individuals to make their purchases before the cost goes up.
  3. Price Decreases: Inform prospects that a current discount or promotional price will soon come to an end. This encourages customers to take advantage of the reduced price while it lasts.
  4. Deadlines: Set a clear deadline for your offer, emphasizing that it is only valid for a limited period. The fear of missing out on the deal will drive action.

Navigating Artificial Scarcity

While scarcity can be a powerful motivator, it's essential to use it judiciously. Artificial scarcity can backfire, eroding trust and credibility. For instance, placing limits on e-books, downloadable software, or electronic music files may seem manipulative since these digital products can be duplicated infinitely at minimal cost. In such cases, scarcity appears disingenuous and can deter potential customers.

However, price increases with well-defined deadlines tend to be more effective. Raising prices after a certain number of orders or a specific time period is a reasonable and transparent policy that customers are more likely to accept.


Incorporating an element of scarcity into your business offers can be a game-changer. It taps into the fundamental human fear of missing out and encourages customers to take action immediately. By strategically implementing scarcity, you can drive sales, increase conversions, and ultimately ensure that your customers buy now instead of "later." So, take advantage of this powerful psychological principle and watch your business thrive in the face of procrastination.