Articles Tagged with: scarcity marketing
What is Loss Aversion?

Let’s talk about loss aversion, why the pain of loss results in irrational decisions, and how marketers are taking advantage of this.

Loss aversion is perfectly summed up by FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out.

It’s the irrational fear of loss. In psychology, loss aversion explains why people, too often, focus on setbacks instead of gains—it explains why the pain of losing is seen to be more powerful than the pleasure of gaining something. In their Prospect Theory study, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky said, “losses loom larger than gains.”

About twice as large!

What makes loss aversion so influential?

Simply put, we hate loss. Receiving something is great, sure—but we don’t love it as much as we hate losing.

If you received a $200 jacket for your birthday, you’d be happy. However, if your dog chewed a giant hole in it the next day, the unhappiness you’d feel would be twice as powerful.  

Losing something or downgrading is psychologically distressing, so we do what we can to avoid it (even if it makes absolutely no sense).

It’s not completely our fault, though. There are intense cultural, socioeconomic, and neurological factors at play when it comes to the power of loss aversion.

Loss triggers a reaction from the same part of the brain that processes fear and risk. Our brains also associate loss with prediction errors and disgust. We’re trained to detest loss.  

We’re extremely vulnerable to loss aversion when it comes to making decisions because as soon as we imagine a choice, we’re emotionally invested and attached.  

People will go to incredible lengths to avoid a perceived loss.

Example: waiting in absurdly long lines to get something for free.

In December of last year, Starbucks created a holiday-themed travel mug that you would get for free if you ordered a Grande holiday beverage. They claimed they would keep the promo going until they ran out of mugs. Nobody knew how many they had on hand, so there were lines around blocks at Starbucks stores across the country. It didn’t matter that the travel mug was valued at less than $5 and made from thin plastic. They had already latched on to the idea of getting a free holiday treat, so not receiving that mug would be considered a significant loss.

People are also likely to make purchases they weren’t necessarily planning on making if you provide them with a free shipping coupon. They’ll recognize that this opportunity doesn’t come along all time, and the thought of losing out on it will persuade them to make a purchase.  

Businesses use loss aversion marketing strategies all the time.

A perfectly executed “flash deal” is a big moneymaker. When a product is deeply discounted for a very limited time, the consumer’s brain focuses on the ticking timer and the amount of savings rather than on the product itself. You probably don’t need another sweater or another cordless vacuum cleaner—but at 70% off, that’s a GREAT deal, right? I can’t miss out on that!

It’s also why pre-orders, coupons, and VIP exclusives work. With pre-orders, it’s an early bird discount—the discount is the prize for ordering early. With coupons, it’s a lot like being given free money. Why would anyone throw free money away, right? With VIP exclusives, all you needed to get VIP status was probably to sign up for a newsletter, and voila! It’s too easy. Why risk missing out on the action?

Free trial periods show people exactly what their life would look like with the product or service, making it exponentially harder for them to end it when the trial is over. They’ve experienced the benefits and identified with that life, so they don’t want to lose it.  

Insurance companies usually have a mile-long list of extremely unfortunate things that could happen to you and how you’ll be negatively affected if you don’t have the proper coverage. No matter how unlikely these events are, they’ve successfully set you up to view them as losses, and you’re more likely to focus on those than the regular payments required to avoid them.

If your business needs to avoid giving people more than necessary, loss aversion tactics can help you sidestep that waste. Studies have shown that when options are presented as addable rather than retractable, people will only take what they want (toppings on a salad, ingredients in a sandwich, etc.).

You can maximize the effects of loss aversion marketing in your small business, too.

The success of your offer entirely depends on your messaging.

Understanding your target audience and their fears is crucial to connecting with them. You need to clearly explain what their life would be like if they don’t purchase your product or service, and they won’t care unless you speak directly to their pain points and experiences. It’s about showing them what they’ll miss out on if they don’t participate soon and painting a picture they can’t ignore.

People must believe there’s something to lose for loss aversion to work properly. If you post an offer for 20% off and claim that it’s only available for the next two days and then post a 25% off coupon the following week, you’ve given people a reason put off making their decision. Even worse, they’ll notice that you contradicted yourself, and any trust they had in you and your brand will start to fade.  

You’re working hard to convert all the “I’ll just buy it tomorrow” shoppers into “I feel good about committing to this now” shoppers. Keep that goal in mind, and you’ll notice a positive trend in your conversion rates.

How about you? How do you leverage on loss aversion? Got a question? Don’t forget to COMMENT below and SHARE your thoughts.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201803/what-is-loss-aversion

https://www.activecampaign.com/blog/loss-aversion-marketing

https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/loss-aversion/


Have You Heard of Scarcity Marketing?

Scarcity marketing plays on the cultural trope that most people want what they can’t have. It’s not a new phenomenon—it is based on decades of psychological research and not to mention a basic economic principle.

In economics, the law of supply and demand dictates that a low supply makes something more valuable in terms of price, all things equal. It’s one of the reasons why anything that’s limited edition will be pricey.

But what makes a limited edition so attractive and in-demand?

There are many other psychological principles in play here. Some people are collectors and are motivated to purchase anything that’s limited edition. There’s also the need to be distinct from others—getting your hands on a limited edition somehow grants you bragging rights. Then there’s herd behavior—when you see other people want something, you’ll start liking it, too.

Cue #FOMO or the fear of missing out. Millennial consumers were asked if they would buy something after experiencing FOMO, and 68% of them said yes – they’d even make the purchase within a day or two.

The bottom line is that scarcity creates demand. Scarcity also creates urgency. Demand and urgency lead people to buy NOW.

The pull toward things we can’t have develops at an extremely young age.

Jack Brehm shared his findings in his book, Theory of Psychological Reactance. For his experiment, he placed two of the same toddler toys in a room. He put plexiglass around one of the toys and let the other sit out in the open. By this point, you shouldn’t be surprised that toddlers were more interested in the one with the barrier.

What are popular and compelling examples of the use of scarcity by companies?

Amazon makes it known if a product is running low in stock. Some e-commerce sites will even send you notifications if a product is selling out quickly. Whether you were almost convinced to buy the product or not, it’s suddenly a lot more desirable. When you’re taking your time to decide on a purchase, you’re passively picturing your life with the product. As soon as you know that it’s almost gone, you’re forced to quickly and intensely imagine what your life would be like if you missed out on this product. The thought of losing this chance is likely enough to make you commit.

Booking.com and Agoda.com will alert you if someone has booked the room you’ve been eyeing. They’ll also let you know how many other people are currently looking at the room you’re considering, putting the pressure on you to book it before they do.

Door Dash and other food delivery companies will send members a coupon for a specific dollar amount off an order and only make it usable for the next week. If you were on the fence about getting food delivered in the next week, chances are you’re at least going to look at the options now. But who are you kidding – you’re definitely going to order dinner from that new Thai restaurant everyone’s been talking about.

Seasonal products or limited-time items are also compelling examples of the use of scarcity in marketing. Those Starbucks fall and holiday drinks? Those are made with the scarcity principle in mind. It must work because nearly every industry has adopted a seasonal offering of some sort. Pumpkin spice deodorant, anyone?

Studies also show that the average ticket price when buying a seasonal drink is higher than buying a regular drink. Seasonal beverages are seen as special and indulgent, so people are more likely to treat themselves to another menu item while they’re at it. Holiday self-care at its finest!

Some brands use limited-time freebies to encourage purchases. Lego will release limited edition polybags and other collectibles to entice collectors to purchase on particular dates, like May the 4th for Star Wars builds. Starbucks created a limited-edition holiday travel mug that shoppers got for free when they ordered a holiday beverage, increasing their seasonal sales by even more than usual.

An e-commerce clothing company tested two versions of a product page to see which one would prompt more purchases. They’re each selling the same jacket – the only difference is that one page has an “Order within 3 hours (counting down clock), get next day delivery” message just under the “Add to Cart” button. That offer increased their sales by 226%.

Airbnb lets viewers know when they come across a “Rare Find” – that is, a space that’s so spectacular it’s usually fully booked. Mix in some social proof with that urgency, and you’ve got yourself a sale!

Let’s go over some ways for you to use scarcity marketing in your own business.

Limiting your products’ availability triggers customers to assume that these products must be far better than other ones that are readily available. In our eyes, exclusive means superior. This assumption is so strong that we can assign a quality level to a product simply by noticing its availability. This works for limited bonus products, limited sale items, limited introductory price offers, limited time for free shipping or next-day delivery offers, limited offers through a specific channel (“Order through our app in the next 24 hours for 50% off), etc.

If you consistently run sales and each one is accompanied by a “Final Hours” or “Ends Soon” message, your customers will start to catch on. They’ll notice that your warnings aren’t compelling, and their sense of urgency will disappear.

Strategy and authenticity are the keys to making scarcity marketing work for you.

How about you? How do you leverage scarcity for your business? Got a question? Don’t forget to COMMENT below and SHARE your thoughts.

Sources:

https://sleeknote.com/blog/scarcity-marketing

https://sumo.com/stories/scarcity-marketing