Do you remember when Gmail was introduced into the market? It was exclusive, there was a select list of people who got access, it was all hush hush or so it seemed. You just couldn’t get one. There were some select individuals who had access to it. These core group of people had exclusive access.
Now here’s the most important part about this. The core group was small. For instance, among my network of friends only one had received access. Not everybody had access. Access was scarce.
The only way you could get onto trying out Gmail was if they (the exclusive initial users) gave you access. When I got access I promptly gave it to my network of colleagues, friends and family.
People just couldn’t stop talking about it.
There was stiff competition
Now remember Gmail wasn’t Gmail as it is today. There were a lot of other big name players in the market; Hotmail, Yahoo Mail etc. But this combination of ingredients, Exclusivity, Scarcity and leveraging networks caused an enormous amount of people to get talking about it.
How easy availability could mean low perceived value
Time and again brands lose value when they lose sight of this basic human principle of scarcity and exclusivity. I’ve often seen it in retail. Two adjacent stores containing the same brand product. Or going into a mall and finding the same shirt in all 5 stores in the mall.
It might seem that making it more available would make it easier for people to buy it, however, more often than not it doesn’t.
Increase in Value, even though it was free
Email ids were freely available, there was nothing outstanding that Gmail was offering, yet it piqued people’s interest, everyone wanted a Gmail id.
Restricting the access to some select people had a dual effect. The people who got access felt extremely special. The felt part of an elite exclusive group and they went ahead and expressed it to their friends and family, asking if they would like a Gmail id, thereby causing massive word of mouth publicity.
Getting early access to resources helps people feel special
“The Windows Insider Program, where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops. Soon after, we’ll also be releasing technical previews of Windows Server and our management tools.”
That’s from an announcement Microsoft did when they launched the Windows Insider Program – only the people in this program got access to Windows 10 before the rest of the market.
It was perceived to be exclusive and scarce.
Objection! I don’t know what or how I can restrict access to… and make people feel special
Let me take on a few quick examples of how one can do this in almost any sector/industry.
– Last few rooms at x price.
– Open bar from 5-5:30 for select customers
– Entrance exam on x date.
– Admission forms available only till 10th November…
– Open day on Y date. An exclusive opportunity to meet all the faculty personally.
– Invite only access to meet the singer personally while he/she launches the next album
– Backstage pass
– Exclusive peek at upcoming designs
– Exclusive conference/Seminar for CEO’s with one-on-one consulting with top management
More ideas on how you can provide restricted access and help brand advocates feel special
– Early peeks at your upcoming products
– Meetings with your management team
– Reserved seating at your events
– Exclusive discounts for your products
– Showcasing the client at your events/website/blog… social channels.
The big reason why
There is another reason why companies might often find it useful to introduce scarcity.
Often when you’re planning to launch a new product or service you might want to test market it in the real world to understand product acceptance and to figure out and iron out any issues, which you may not have seen.
This practice has often proven invaluable in discovering glitches or understand what aspect of the product or service really matters to your customer. At this stage of testing or launching a new product involving all your customers would not necessarily be useful as you’re still testing the waters. However, the fact that you’ve invited a few of your customers to be a part of this will make them feel special and will give you invaluable insight.
Scarcity and exclusivity often create demand and value
Just like Google did with Gmail, Microsoft with their Insider Program and so many other companies, applying principles of scarcity and exclusivity can help your brand advocates feel special and cause them to generate enormous word of mouth publicity for you.
Have you seen an example of scarcity and how it has created demand or value or helped in increasing word of mouth? Do share in the comments below.