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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why are people so ‘hyped’ over Supreme?

The streetwear brand, Supreme, is known for its quality, style and authenticity. Since its creation, the brand has confirmed its unique identity through collaborations with several of our generation’s most innovative designers, artists and photographers. It has evolved into a global cult as streetwear and high fashion merge into one. The appeal of the brand has gathered thousands of loyal customers worldwide.

But what does Supreme have that keep its fans so obsessed? The attractiveness is not limited to the quality of clothing and diversity of collaborations, but rather extends to the ‘scarcity’ and ‘exclusivity’ of products. Supreme’s strategy is to have a limited supply in comparison to the demand. Consequently, people want these items more. Research shows that people are more likely to choose an item in store when it is scarce (Parker & Lehmann). The underlying reason is the item is limited because everyone else has bought it. The availability of an item is a shortcut cue to its quality (Cialdini, 2007).

In the case of Supreme, the perception of scarcity is not solely introduced by limiting the number of products available. Every week, the brand launches a limited batch of new products which are guaranteed to sell out within minutes. Once these items are sold out, they are never restocked. Consequently, every collection obtains limited-edition products. When items are part of a limited edition, a sense of exclusivity is created (Aggarwal, Jun, & Huh, 2011). Products are regarded as more unique and valuable due to their one-of-a-kind quality, which specially collectors, cannot resist.

Thus, as the hype over Supreme continues to grow, the weekly line-up at any of its stores on “drop day” will become a ritual which Supreme loyalists will not miss.


Aggarwal, P., Jun, S. Y., & Huh, J. H. (2011). Scarcity messages. Journal of Advertising, 40, 19-30.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.

Parker, J. R., & Lehmann, D. R. (2011). When shelf-based scarcity impacts consumer
preferences. Journal of Retailing, 87, 142-155.

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