What Is Scarcity Marketing? (Plus 10 Tactics To Increase Sales)

Updated June 24, 2022

Marketing techniques can help marketing teams advertise products more effectively to gain more customers and increase their profits. Some techniques, like scarcity marketing, concentrate on the uniqueness or limited availability of a product or price to get more people to purchase those items. If you want to increase profits for your marketing team, you may be interested in learning more about scarcity marketing tactics. In this article, we discuss what scarcity marketing is, why it's useful for companies and some helpful tactics you can use to benefit your company and sell products.

Related: 54 Types of Marketing Strategies

What is scarcity marketing?

Scarcity marketing is a technique marketing teams use to encourage customers to make a purchase before a product or discount goes away. Often, this means putting timers on sales and promotions, limiting the number of items in stock or creating seasonal or promotional items to sell for a short time. This technique targets customers who want products or discounts that they might not get if those products or discounts run out.

Why do companies use scarcity marketing?

Companies often use scarcity marketing to create urgency for customers to make a purchase before a product goes out of stock or a discount expires. When customers notice something is going out of stock, they're more inclined to make a purchase to ensure they get the product before it's gone. As a marketer, you can help your company make more sales by highlighting the scarcity of products or discounts and motivating customers to make purchases.

Related: What Is Scarcity and Why Is It Important?

10 scarcity marketing tactics

Consider the following scarcity marketing tactics to help you increase sales for your company:

1. Products almost out of stock

One way to use scarcity marketing for an online store is to show that a product is almost sold out or is low in stock. You can use software to display real-time notices of low stock on your company's website so customers can always see when there isn't much of a product left to buy. This can encourage hesitant customers to make a purchase before the product sells out, which is useful for customers who typically wait to make a purchase and forget about the product as they go about their day.

2. Cart timers

You can use cart timers to reserve a customer's cart for a certain amount of time before someone else can buy the items in it. This is especially useful for limited or low-stock products because customers have to make a decision about whether they want to purchase the item quickly instead of holding it in their cart and waiting. With this technique, you may add a real-time cart timer on your company's website and send customers an email when their cart is about to expire to motivate them to complete their purchase.

3. Early access discounts

Early access discounts are usually time-sensitive price reductions on pre-orders of products or special promotions for loyal customers to get an item before everyone else. These discounts motivate customers to buy a product before the discount expires and others can access the item, which may lead to it going out of stock more quickly. A good way to use early access discounts is by sending emails to existing customers with the promotion details and putting a banner on your store's website or physical location with the date the discount ends.

4. Limited time bonus items

You may use this tactic when you have a lot of smaller products to sell or during the holiday season to encourage shoppers to buy spend a certain amount of money. When customers spend that certain amount at your store, they can get bonus items for a limited time. A tactic like this helps you sell more products by using low-cost or overstocked items that don't result in a loss for your company. This is especially useful during gift-giving holidays, because shoppers may enjoy getting more products to give as gifts.

Related: A Guide To Effective Marketing Techniques

5. Next-day or same-day delivery countdowns

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

6. Special edition products

Another scarcity tactic that may work for your company is selling special edition or exclusive products, which create instant value because of their low supply and high demand. You may also consider collaborating with other companies or popular public figures to make exclusive items that appeal to multiple audiences and broaden your potential customer base. To use special edition products to your advantage, try to create excitement about the launch of the items in advance to ensure as many people as possible know about these products when they're available.

7. Platform-exclusive deals

Platform-exclusive deals refer to deals that customers can get only through certain platforms, like discounts for purchases through an app or sales available only on a website. Instead of limiting the amount of products available for people to buy, these deals focus on how long a discount lasts and how customers can access that discount. A tactic like this may help your company get more users on different platforms, which is especially useful for mobile apps because it gives shoppers easy access to your store anywhere they go.

8. Purchase timers or countdowns

Some companies benefit from using purchase timers or countdowns on items, specifically if those items are up for auction. On your website, you can add a clock that counts down to a time when an item is no longer available for sale, which increases a customer's urgency to buy the item before it's gone. This can also create more competition for auction items and raise the price as more customers make bids, resulting in more money for you and a higher value for similar products in the same market.

9. Seasonal products

Selling limited season products can help your company make more sales during certain times of the year and create excitement each season when you release new products or the same high-demand ones from the year before. Depending on the type of company you work for, you may market things like food and drink, clothing and accessories or useful items seasonally to attract customers who need or want these special items at different times of the year. Often, shoppers excited for seasonal products also recommend those items to their friends and increase your customer base even more.

Related: 15 Marketing Psychology Principles, Explained

10. Popular or high-demand products

One more way to use scarcity marketing to increase sales is to add feature to online product descriptions that show how many customers are interested in a product. This can mean displaying the number of people who have viewed the item, put it in their cart or liked it on the website. While you may not be limiting the actual number of products available any more than normal, customers may want the product more because they see that it's popular and may sell out at some point.

Benefits and drawbacks of scarcity marketing tactics

To help you better understand how scarcity marketing can affect your company, examine these benefits and drawbacks of the practice:


Consider these benefits of using scarcity marketing:

  • Creates more demand for certain products: Scarcity marketing often creates a higher demand for your products because it lowers their availability and increases their exclusivity. This demand may help spread awareness of your products when customers share your limited items or discounts with friends and make interested shopper more excited for the uniqueness of the product or price.

  • Motivates customers to buy instead of wait: Some customers like to think about a purchase for a long time before they decide 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 disappear.

  • Improves visibility of your company from referrals: Customers typically share information about exclusive offers and items with their friends and family, so using scarcity tactics and ads can increase your company's visibility and grow your customer base. Using online indicators of scarcity, like timers and low-stock displays, with digital marketing can improve this shareability.


Consider these drawbacks to using scarcity marketing:

  • Takes attention away from product: Urgent marketing can sometimes take attention away from products if you make the countdowns and limited stock too apparent or focus on the exclusivity rather than usefulness. Try to balance your scarcity marketing techniques with information about the quality of the product, how it can benefit a customer's life and what value it brings.

  • Causes pressure for customers: Scarcity marketing may encourage some shoppers, but it can cause pressure for other customers to make purchases and may discourage them from shopping because of the possible challenges. To fix this, you may choose to use scarcity tactics infrequently to make them more special and allow customers to take their time making purchases.

  • Doesn't always increase customer base: While scarcity techniques and marketing materials can increase your customer base when shared on social media or between friends, some shoppers may only make a purchase once and not become a loyal customer. Counteract this by sending some discounts only to current customers, like those on your email list.

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