Learning from Nike: Limited Edition Shoes

Woman tying shoesFor years, Nike has been duping us into buying their shoes.  They create an inflated hype up about every shoe that they sell, the new features, how it is different from their other shoes, etc.  Customers can’t wait to get a new pair.  They flock to the stores falling in love with this new model.  It is popular, they tell their friends, and hundreds of thousands of people buy a pair.  The hype dies down after a few months, but then they do something brilliant that spikes sales.

They stop making the shoe.

True, they will soon come out with an updated version, the 2.0 or another model that has similar features, but the customer has already fallen in love with that exact shoe.  This forces them to quickly head to the store to buy another pair, before they disappear forever.  The new model is different enough that customers must have their old pair.  And it is nearly impossible to get the shoe after it hits the clearance racks.

Why Does This Work?

Nike creates scarcity and a sense of urgency with this “Limited Edition” tactic.  We as consumers have a fear of missing out, and playing to that fear boosts Nike’s sales every time.  If consumers think that there are only a certain number of the product, they are more likely to buy it than if there are more than enough to go around.  Nike also creates a sense of urgency with their products.  Consumers know that if they do not buy the shoe within about a year of its release date, they will be not be able to purchase it at all.

How to Use Scarcity and Urgency

You can create this same sense of scarcity and urgency in your own store.  If you have an online storefront, offer special deals if consumers purchase a product within five minutes of visiting the website. Make sure that you have a countdown on your site so that it increases their need for speed.  Show consumers the amount of stock left on a product they have selected, and put it in urgent terms like “Hurry! Only 1 remaining!”  If you have a brick and mortar store, create day of sales, a sale that will only last until the day is over.

Nike would not sell their products if they were not products worth selling.  Scarcity and urgency boost sales, not create them.  Remember that scarcity should be used scarcely, as over using these concepts will actually turn consumers away.

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