Scarcity Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

July 2, 2009
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Way back in my days as a college student in the early 1970s, Coors beer was the rage among my peers. Reason - originally it was sold only west of the Mississippi River, and thus was a scarce commodity in my hometown of Chicago. So Coors developed a cult following because we thought we were missing out on something special.

My wife hails from Springfield, MO, and in the early days of our marriage we made frequent driving trips to visit her family there. For the return trip we'd pack the trunk with cases of Coors for ourselves and to fill orders from friends. As time passed Coors got distributed nationwide, and the beer revealed itself as a rather humdrum product. To my modern taste, and in accordance with its market share, Coors is one of the most inferior mass-marketed brews.

I was reminded of the Coors mystique when I read this article in the Chicago Tribune about the first opening of a Sonic Drive-In restaurant in our area. Sonics also began out west and have more than 3,400 outlets in 37 states, but apart from the nostalgic kick of having car hops take your order, I don't think their burgers and shakes are worth going out of the way for. Same goes for the In-'N-Out burger chain on the West Coast that derives a cachet from acting like a fast food joint but making sandwiches to order (and thus slowing down service).

Nonetheless, there's something intriguing about this notion of scarcity marketing. Put on your thinking caps and see if there's a way to make it work for your clients.

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