The Charlotte Food Truck Scene – A Great Example of Scarcity Marketing

Whether at the Friday night Plaza Midwood foodtruck scene, the Southend food truck rally, or Uptown during lunch time, our Charlotte advertising agency loves to sample the cuisine from these roving restaurants. And although the food truck scene is still unfolding here in the Queen City, it's been booming for years in bigger cities like Los Angeles and New York. What's the underlying marketing force behind this trend? 

It's called scarcity marketing

Scarcity marketing involves motivating people to buy something by telling them there is a shortage in what is available and a limited time to act. The goal is to create a sense of urgency through an aggressive call to action; to make people scared that they will not be able to acquire something that they want if they don’t act fast.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the first instance of scarcity marketing, but companies have used the technique for many years. One of the most notable examples of scarcity marketing – the Disney Vault – started during the 1980s. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began to reissue limited editions of their films and urge consumers to purchase these films before they went back into the “Disney Vault.” Because each Disney film is only for a limited time before it is put in the vault and not made available for several years until it is released again, consumers are driven to act fast when a new video is released. Apple Computer is another company that clearly understands and uses scarcity marketing. And the Cabbage Patch Kids craze makes a poignant example of scarcity marketing from my own childhood.

The primary benefit of using scarcity marketing in your business is being able to position your products as services as a commodity. This drives up the perceived value of what you’re selling, and the fear that it has limited availability makes people act fast to purchase. Scarcity can also present an opportunity to engage your audience in a new way. By creating an interesting background that shares the reason for the scarcity (such as a one-of-a-kind product or special edition that has significant meaning), you can capture and keep the customer’s attention. Lastly, when it’s done effectively, scarcity marketing can also create a cult following – the kind of blind loyalty that makes people wait for days in freezing temperatures to buy the new i-Phone.

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