Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Limited Edition

This advert makes good use of the scarcity principle by making only 300 pairs of the limited edition trainers available. By using this technique, it suggests to customers that the trainers will soon be sold out therefore persuading them to go and buy a pair urgently before losing out on the opportunity.

Evidence for the effectiveness of the scarcity principle comes from Worchel, Lee and Adewole (1975) who conducted an experiment using 200 female undergraduates who had to rate the value and attractiveness of cookies that were either in abundant or scarce supply.  There were four conditions; in the first condition (scarce change) both the participant and the experimenter had jars of cookies. The participant had a jar containing 10 cookies which was then swapped with the experimenter’s 2 cookies. In the second condition (scarce no change) only the participant had a jar which had 2 cookies. The third condition (abundant no change) only the participant had a jar which had 10 cookies and in the last condition (abundant change) both the participant and the experimenter had jars of cookies. The participant had 2 cookies which was swapped with the experimenter’s 10 cookies. Participants were told to taste the cookies and then rate them using a 9 point scale answering the question ‘If given the opportunity, would you like to eat more of this consumer item’ (1=very much and 9=not at all). It was found that participants who had cookies in the scarce supply conditions rated the cookies as more desirable than in the abundant condition. In addition, cookies were rated as more valuable when supply changed from abundant to scarce than when the supply was constantly scarce. These results provide evidence for the scarcity principle as it shows that things are more attractive when their availability is limited.
Moreover, it has been stated that there are 2 types of product scarcity; limited supply or high demand (Verhallen, 1982).  Heribert and Huettl (2009) have studied the effects of these two types of scarcity on the attitudes of consumers toward products. The found that if a product is used for conspicuous consumption ( the acquiring of products and services to display wealth or impress others), signals of scarcity due to limited supply are advantageous compared to signals of scarcity due to high demand. On the contrary, if a product is not used for conspicuous consumption, signals of scarcity due to high demand result in more favourable product evaluations. In this case, it can be argued that the ken block shoes is a product used for conspicuous consumption as it is a pair of designer trainers that would often be bought in order to impress others and display signs of wealth and style. Therefore, this advert makes effective use of the scarcity principle.


Gierl, H., & Huettl, V. (2010). Are scarce products always more attractive? The interaction of different types of scarcity signals with products' suitability for conspicuous consumption. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 27(3), 225-235.
Verhallen, T. M. M. (1982). Scarcity and consumer choice behavior. Journal of Economic Psychology, 2(2), 299−322.
Worchel, S., Lee, J., & Adewole, A. (1975). Effects of supply and demand on ratings of object value. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32(5), 906-914.

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