Like most people, I find the best way to shop now is staying in the comfort of my own home and spend my money online. For us spenders, when we see that they only have a few items left in stock in our size, we have to buy the item immediately. For example, when I saw this amazing swimsuit from Topshop, it only had 2 left in stock in my size. This was in a different coloured font and situated right next to the ‘add to bag’ button. My thought process included ‘if I don’t buy this now, it will probably sell out and I will never have it’. So obviously, this went straight into the online basket.
This behaviour can be explained by Parker (2011) who published ‘When Shelf-based Scarcity Impacts Consumer Preferences’. Parker suggested that scarcer products infer that they are more popular and higher quality so are more desired. He conducted a study which showed that when a product was more scarce, participants were more likely to select them. Seventy undergraduates were asked to imagine they took a trip in a foreign country and that they decided to purchase items to take to a local party. Participants were given a simulation of shelfs with the products and in each category one was product was scarce. They found that participants were more likely to choose the product which was very scarce.
So, by Topshop clearly showing me that there is only 2 products left in stock in my size, I am more likely to buy the product.
Parker, J. R., & Lehmann, D. R. (2011). When shelf-based scarcity impacts consumer preferences. Journal of Retailing, 87(2), 142-155.