Home > marketing ramblings > Scarcity marketing in shirt supply

Scarcity marketing in shirt supply

Scarcity as a concept is a simple and well worn, but still effective, marketing tool.  TM Lewin’s perpetual “limited time offer” sales don’t fool anyone, but customers still feel they got a good deal when they walk away with 3 shirts for £100.

Since selling out the Guinness Premiership Final in 2008, we too have tapped into the concept urging fans to their tickets early, helping Premier Rugby sell out the event earlier and with greater margin.  However, this is true scarcity marketing because, unlike a sale where the product becomes unavailable at a particular price, once the tickets are gone, they’re gone – you can’t extend Twickenham’s capacity.

So as I passed Abercrombie & Fitch the other day I pondered the reason people were happy to queue in the rain for a store that’s as ubiquitous in US shopping malls as Next is here.  It could be the US fashion chain’s any-publicity-is-good-publicity practice – I’m sure their “look policy” which involves topless male staff who look like they’ve stepped out of a “Twilight 3: Varsity Vamps” poster and female staff who wear shirts as dresses has something to do with it.

However, with only handful of flagship stores outside the States (Milan, London and Tokyo) I suspect scarcity is partially responsible.  After all, a company that turns over £2b and settles $45m out of court for unsuccessful job applicants could have multiple stores in cities all around Europe if they wanted.  Instead, by turning the store (with its club-level music and lighting) into a unique London tourist attraction they ensure everyone buys the t-shirt while the one-store scarcity has helped the UK account for 50% of A&F’s online sales.

Picture from the NY-based flash-mob group Improve Everywhere’s A&F’s stunt.

Categories: marketing ramblings
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