Scarcity tactics have become popular concepts in the marketing world.

But before we can get into the tactics:

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What exactly do you mean by scarcity?

Scarcity is one of the six principles of persuasion found in Robert Cialdini’s book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” The scarcity principle is based on the fact that people are afraid of missing out.

It typically involves threatening the availability of a product with a deadline or limited quantity. Scarcity tactics are highly useful for marketing a wide variety of products and services.

As a principle, scarcity can be effectively used for improving conversions. However, it can backfire if it's not used correctly or applied too excessively.

How can you use it effectively?

For scarcity tactics to be successful, you need to influence your customers in a subtle way so that they don't feel you're playing a role in their decision. The key is to avoid forcing them.grab customers’ attention

What Scarcity Tactics Should You Follow?

Scarcity tactics, if used correctly, can help you convince your potential buyers to make instant purchases. You can make them believe that only a limited number of products are available or that an offer is available only for a limited period.

Let’s take a look at 17 scarcity tactics that can help influence your consumers and compel them to take action.

1. Display Stock Limitations

One of the most popular methods of using scarcity is to display the stock meter on product pages. It speeds up the purchase process significantly because it convinces users to buy the item right away.

You could offer discounts or free gifts for a limited number of customers. For example:

In the image below, see how Amazon displays a message about only one product left in stock.display stock limitation idea by amazon - scarcity tacticsImage via Amazon

2. Be exclusive

Scarcity tactics also work when you offer exclusive products in limited quantity. In this case, you'll drive conversion by launching a limited line of products.

How can you do this?

Let’s take a look at an example to understand how this tactic works

Chanel applies this tactic effectively with its seasonal Limited Edition Nail Color, which will be removed from the line once supplies run out. It is a subtle, yet effective way to create scarcity and improve edition scarcity tacticsImage via Chanel

3. Use Colors to Create Urgency

By picking the right colors, you can influence the subconscious mind of site visitors and get them to take immediate action.


According to color psychology, colors like red and orange are aggressive and energetic. Red helps create urgency; thus, it's often used in clearance sales. Orange also prompts actions like subscribing or buying.color urgency - scarcity tacticsSource: Bufferapp

In a popularly-cited study by HubSpot, a simple switch in the CTA button color helped in improving conversions. After running an A/B test, they found a 21% increase in conversion rate by changing the button from green to blue.

In another study conducted by SAP Business Objects, switching from a blue text link to a large orange button helped increase conversions by 32.5%.color in button urgency tactic

4. Set Deadlines for Deals

Many businesses put limited time offers on their products or services to build scarcity. You can do the same by creating deals that last for a short period. People will be more likely to make a purchase decision right then and there.

Which brand uses this tactic efficiently?

Scarcity is the primary concept that fuels the success of Groupon. Every deal found on the website lasts for a limited time and has a limited time scarcity tacticsImage via Groupon

5. Create special discount hours

A sale lasting for a couple of days is a great way to drive sales. But, there is a way to build even more excitement.

And what’s that?

Make the sale last for just a few hours.

In the following image, you can see how Pet Pro Supply Co. offers a flash sale to produce urgency.special discount hours scarcity tacticsImage via Pet Pro Supply Co

6. Size scarcity

You can even implement scarcity tactics by indicating which sizes of a particular item are currently out of stock.

How does this help?

People are likely to feel more compelled to make a purchase immediately if it’s available in their size. Ministry of Supply cleverly displays the out-of-stock sizes on their product pages.size scarcity tacticsImage via

7. Send out last chance emails

Send out emails to your subscribers and let them know about the last day of a sale.

Why should you do that?

It is an excellent way to grab customers' attention about an existing sale and subtly hint at them to take action now.

For example:scarcity tactics by last chance email marketing campaign

Image via Flipkart

8. Use the Right Words to Create Urgency

Saying the right words could help you effectively implement scarcity tactics.


Well, take for example, words like “hurry,” “now,” “immediately,” and “instant.”

These words can create some sense of urgency in people.

In a case study found on, merely adding some special words helped improve the click-through rate for an article. Below you can see that the control headline had a 0.77% CTR. After adding “today” to the headline, the CTR improved to 3.94% which shows how users are curious to catch a deal that may not be available tomorrow.a-b testing with titlesImage via

9. Offer Next-Day Delivery for a Limited Time

Instead of giving discounts, you can also use scarcity by providing next-day delivery only for a limited time. You could also provide this service only if customers make the purchase within a specified period. Amazon uses these scarcity tactics in the image below.scarcity tactic example of next-day delivery for a limited timeImage via Amazon

10. Offer free delivery for a limited time

Along the same lines, you could provide free shipping for a particular period.

How does this help?

This tactic can speed up the purchase process by fueling customers' desire to get free delivery.

11. Include a Countdown Timer

When you have items on sale, you can create more urgency by adding a countdown timer to the product page. This often is more effective than simply showing the end date for your sale. Check out the following image showing how MakersKit has included a countdown timer to the product page.scarcity tactic example of countdown timerImage via MakersKit

Does it really bring great results?

In a test run by WhichTestWon, the simple addition of a countdown timer to a product page improved conversions by 9%. Version A ended up trumping Version B thanks to its bigger emphasis on scarcity.scarcity tactic example 2 of countdown timerImage via MakersKit

12. Give Limited-Time Offers on Items Abandoned in Cart

According to Baymard, the average shopping cart abandonment rate for ecommerce websites is at 68.55%.

You could provide limited-time discounts on items users have abandoned in their shopping cart. Kate Spade sends out emails for abandoned cart items and offers discounts that last for a limited time.
limited-time discount offers on items abandoned in cartImage via Kate Spade

13. Give away stuff

Who doesn’t love getting freebies?

Another of the effective scarcity tactics is giving away bonus items for free. Consider offering free products with certain purchases for a limited time or until supplies last.

14. Deliver daily deals

Daily deals are also a great way to use the scarcity principle in your marketing strategy. Since the offer lasts for just one day, customers feel the urgency to make a purchase before time runs out.scarcity tactics of daily deals

Image via Amazon

15. Have seasonal sales or holiday specials for limited periods

On special occasions and during holiday seasons, you could give discounts or deals that are only available for a specific time.

Looking for an example?

In the image below, you can see how Starbucks offered a free holiday drink with the purchase of one. The offer was available for only one week between 2 pm and 5 specials urgency tacticsImage via Starbucks

What’s more?

Holiday specials are also effective ways to implement scarcity within your business's marketing plan. Modcloth creates special holiday designs that are sold only during the festive season, making them exclusive and specials urgency tactics 2Image via Modcloth

16. Offer Limited-Period Additional Discounts

Have you already launched a sale but want to speed up the purchase process even further?

If you’re already having a sale and want to speed up the purchase process even further, this is one of the scarcity tactics to consider. Give your customers an additional discount for a very limited period on already discounted items like the Gap did below.additional discounts for limited time - scarcity ideaImage via

17. Host stock clearance sales

Last but not the least, implement scarcity tactics by having a stock clearance sale.

During these sales, customers know that they need to buy quickly because there’s a chance that certain items have limited availability. They'll act immediately to prevent their chosen item from running out of stock.stock clearance sales - scarcity idea

Bottom Line

When using scarcity tactics to market your products or services, it's very easy to overdo it. It can annoy potential customers and make your business appear pushy or manipulative.

So what’s the secret? Make sure that every feeling of urgency you create is real and honest. Don't fake scarcity because it'll be tough to maintain trust and credibility once customers realize it. Apply some of these 17 scarcity tactics that won't drive away customers in annoyance and generate high conversion.

What scarcity tactics do you use to influence your consumers’ buying decisions? Please share them with us in the comments section below.


  1. Really great insights here in utilizing scarcity to get people to take action. It’s basic human nature that we are to move away from pain and also that we don’t want to miss out! I personally love the countdown timer. Very simple but now recalling when I have seen it I can say that it does work in my experience!

    1. Shane Barker says:

      Hey, Deanna!
      I have fallen victim to the countdown timer a number of times! 😉

  2. Carol James says:

    Awesome read. Being a marketing manager I can say that these tips are well working in the industry for many years.

  3. Holly Henandez says:

    Awesome tips here. I’m very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot.

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