Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One item left

Across the net, and on just about every television set we encounter we are sold items of luxury, glamour and necessity. Ads influence us through appealing images, tasty promises and samples of scents.  When do these ads go too far though? Is it when they try to talk us into things we don’t need or is all advertising inherently evil?

I don’t necessarily feel that all advertising is evil, but there are certainly issues that should be addressed. One of my biggest pet peeves within the advertising industry has to be the use of the scarcity principle. It’s used as a scare tactic and I wonder how many innocent customers fall victim to this, at time, fraudulent practice.
The scarcity principle is the urge or need to obtain something, because it is presented to be in a limited amount. Advertisers certainly take advantage of this.

While planning my recent business trip I encountered this on a popular travel website.  When each flight I looked like said there was only two tickets left at a certain price, it makes you almost panic in a frenzy to buy the last remaining tickets in fear of having to pay more. But here is the thing, do you really end up paying more if you don’t buy that last two tickets or do you pay less?

On QVC they frequently use the scarcity principle in addition to the liking principle. The count down of items left is used in addition to a timer. Starting at about minute 5:00 you can hear a woman call in. She is encouraged to buy the product and how great it is, by the end she is saying,  “maybe I should buy two.” Her acknowledging her like for the product in addition to the ticker at the bottom of the screen  the viewer is being influenced by both principles.

At minute 6:42 it can be heard that there are only two dozen items left! This use of the scarcity principle attracts your attention and if you haven’t already you might consider picking up that phone and dialing in for your very own photo storage unit.

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