Wagamama launched a campaign in January 2015 advertising their freshly made on order juices, perfectly in time for the new year’s health rush. They importantly, used the scarcity principle to enhance their sales, and to persuade people to definitely give one a go, advertising one as being “limited edition”. This is one of Cialdini’s Six Weapons of Influence (Cialdini, 2009).
Scarcity principal suggests that things, such as this zesty green juice, are more valuable, when they are less available. The limited number tactic works where it adds value to a product by reducing the availability of it. As argued by Cialdini (2009) it works by challenging people emotionally and cognitively where they feel they are losing freedom, so need the item. The item is likely to be good, because of how rare it is.
An experiment was done by Worchel, Lee and Adewole in 1975 with cookies, where participants had to rate how attractive and valuable cookies were, depending on abundance and scarcity. There were four conditions. The first one was the scarce change condition, where both the participant and experimenter had jars of cookies. The participant’s jar had 10 cookies, which was then swapped with the experimenter’s 2 cookies. The second condition was the scarce no change condition, where only the participant had a jar with 2 cookies. The third condition was the abundant no change condition, where only the participant had a jar with 10 cookies. The fourth and last condition was the abundant change condition, where both the participant and the experimenter had jars of cookies, where the participant had 2 cookies, which it swapped with the experimenter’s 10 cookies.
Following this, participants had to taste the cookies and rate them. Participants liked cookies more when scarce than in abundance. They were also rated as more expensive, suggesting more valuable, in the scarce condition than abundant conditions. Therefore, this experiment provides evidence that the scarcity principle really works where items are really seen as more attractive when their availability is threatened.
This suggests that Wagamama’s advertisement campaign should be working!
Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice. Boston: Pearson Education.
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.