🤔 Did you know…

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte turned 20 this year?

According to reports, the well-loved latte and other limited-edition seasonal favorites helped Starbucks post record sales in 2023.

Why are we talking about seasoned beverages? Because limited editions might just lead to your next landslide marketing campaign…

This post is sponsored by BILL ❤️

Imagine this…

You’re out shopping with your friend.

While he’s busy chatting with a sales clerk you take a look around and something catches your eye…

Aha, a pair of smart speakers are on sale.

You’d actually been thinking about getting these exact same speakers for a little while.

A sales rep comes over… “Those speakers almost never go on sale.”

You raise an eyebrow.

He adds, “If you’re interested, I’d act fast. I think there’s only two left.”

You can’t decide whether he’s pushing for a sale—and hefty commission—or if he’s got your best interest at heart.

At that exact moment, another shopper walks up and grabs a box of speakers.

Crap—only one pair left 😬

Why do you feel compelled to pick them up?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy 🧠 we’ll explore Scarcity—why we want something more when there’s less of it.

Let’s get into it.

The Psychology of Scarcity 🧠

F.O.M.O. is a *weirdly* good way to motivate people.*

*Remember the toilet paper shortage mid-COVID?

In 2010, economics professor Mullainathan and his colleagues ran an experiment in a shopping mall to learn how increasing financial scarcity impacts people’s mental state.

Researchers split shoppers into high-income and low-income groups.

  • Scenario one: shoppers were told that they had car trouble and the bill was $300 and they had to decide whether to risk driving away or get it repaired.
  • Scenario two: shoppers were told the same story but this time the surprise bill was $3,000.

After being given the “bad news” about their car bill, each group then was given an IQ test.

The results were clear: “Simply raising monetary concerns for the poor,” they explain, “erodes cognitive performance even more than being seriously sleep deprived.”

AKA scarcity *really* impacts the way you make decisions—it’s powerful stuff.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Buyers need a reason to buy and sometimes–a lot of the time–a great product isn’t enough.

When someone is eyeing an offer, they’re weighing up whether it’s a ‘now’ thing or a ‘maybe-later’ thing. Given the choice, most folks will prefer the ‘maybe-later’ thing because it requires no work on their end.

But sprinkle in a little scarcity and suddenly you’ve got their attention. It gets em’ thinking twice whether they can afford to wait and what they stand to lose if they do.

So if you want more sales, spice things up with a dash of scarcity.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?


Create time-limited offers

Quality-obsessed, from-the-ground-up clothing brand Represent knows a thing or two about designing clothes and building a community of loyal fans (they went from a garden shed to $62 million in sales).

Last year they paired up with world-famous artist Liam Gallagher and announced a collab with a twist.

You could only buy the items between 8pm and 9pm on 27th July 2022.

It meant potential buyers had to decide quickly or risk missing out. A tiny selling window drove HUGE sales.

A caveat: hosting a super short sale like this ONLY works if you build lots of hype in advance and have loyal fans who are willing to organize their whole day around your promotion. That’s a great goal for any business to strive for but not necessarily the right campaign for new or unknown brands.


Be transparent with numbers

Booking.com has a real advantage (and it’s not what you might think).

Unlike digital and physical products, booking.com can run out of rooms. That might sound like a bad thing but *actually* it’s a motivator for getting buyers to hand over their cash.

Booking.com does something clever. They show how many rooms are left on their website. This subtle design (bonus points for putting it in red) encourages browsers to lock in their choice quickly before it’s gone.

Retail & Hospitality

Make a one-day special

What’s better than a sugary, warm, glazed donut?

Nothing. The answer is “nothing”.

But stopping for donuts isn’t always the first thing on your already crammed to-do list, so the smart folks over at Krispy Kreme need to get creative.

Remember what we said about a great product not being enough? That’s why offering a special price of just $15 a box *for today only* sweetens the deal (pun intended).

Service Businesses

Limited spots

Here at Why We Buy 🧠 we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.

On Black Friday we announced a price hike for our Clarity Call Cheatsheets and people loved it.

Alongside the price hike, we offered 5 spots to get a 30-minute strategy call with Katelyn.

Embrace delegation

Those 5 spots sold fast of course—yay, scarcity.

But that wasn’t the only reason we offered the strategy calls. Promoting a higher-priced offer next to the lower-priced cheatsheets created a strong anchor. It made the cheatsheet look like a bargain in comparison. And seeing the strategy calls sell out quickly was a form of social proof, giving people more confidence in buying.

The Short of It 💥

The harder it is to get a hold of something, the more we often want it.

F.O.M.O. is real.

If you want your buyers to act, quantity-based or time-based scarcity work wonders.

Until next time, happy selling.

🐦 Your Brainy Tweetable

Hot take 🔥

A great product is not enough.

Smart marketers know buyers need a reason to buy *now*.

That’s why scarcity is an incredible marketing tactic if used correctly.

Tweet this now >



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

When you’re ready, there are a few ways we can help:

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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Wanna get inside your buyer’s head? Join our newsletter and get one buyer psychology tip delivered to your inbox each week. It’s like a 2-min workout for your brain.

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If you can figure out what makes people tick, click and buy, you can make big $$$. We're working on a new research certification program. Want first dibs when we launch it? Hop on the waitlist.

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You're in!