Years ago, I said, “Nothing sells like a sell-out.” This was an observation that demand for stock items was always lower than for out of stock products. There is some compelling logic behind this; if all vendors are out of stock, one customer might phone six different companies making the enquiry…and that was a demand of only one. If everyone was in stock of the item, only one phone call will be made (assuming all other things are equal e.g. price).
So does my statement, nothing sells like a sell-out, have any real value? I think it does. And this is where businesses can take a different position with their marketing.
If you have loads of availability, i.e. piles of stock, some customers will take the view that either a) there is no rush to buy as there are lots of them, or perhaps b) they’re not very popular.
My experience in music promotion supports this. Promoters and venues want to put on bands and performers that sell-out venues. If you are in a band that sold-out your last three shows, a promoter wants you, you are hot property. Which promoter wants a band that will only pull an audience of three?
Sandi Thom, back in 2006, pulled a blinder when she started gigging from her basement flat in London. The article in The Independent – Sandi Thom: bedroom superstar talks about her success. They haven’t mentioned a key element of her plan that really made it work…her basement gigs were a sell-out; you couldn’t get tickets. The venue capacity was only six people. In my opinion, that was the thing that made people start to watch the gigs online.
People want what others have got that they cannot get hold of. Nothing sells like a sell-out.
I’m not advocating that you should ever deceive your customers, that is wrong and a recipe for disaster. What I am saying is that highlighting shortages will help sell things. Pointing out how others have benefitted from buying has helped, oh, and we only have one left (if that is true).
This thinking edges into the area of selling exclusivity, “Only available to xxxx.”
Faced so often with abundance, those things that I might not be able to get are very seductive.
At the same time, managing availability is a big part of product management. How can you ensure you always satisfy 95% of demand? No overstocks. No expensive liquidation of end of line items.