Scarcity Appeals in Advertising: The Moderating Role of Expectation of Scarcity


Published: 11Mar2016

Authors: Mukherjee, A. & Lee, S. Y.

Publication: Journal of Advertising 


Advertisers often use scarcity appeals to influence consumers, with announcements such as “hurry, limited quantities,” and “limit: two per customer.” Based on a persuasion knowledge framework, we show in three studies that the effect of scarcity appeals on product evaluation is moderated by consumers' expectation of scarcity, such that scarcity appeals have a positive effect when expectation of scarcity is high but not when it is low. We also show that this interaction effect holds for expectation of scarcity due to demand as well as supply, and that cognitive load constitutes a boundary condition for this effect. These findings contribute to the literature by identifying expectation of scarcity as a moderator, persuasion knowledge as a mechanism, and cognitive load as a boundary condition for the effect of scarcity appeals on product evaluation. From a managerial perspective, this research indicates that scarcity appeals are more effective when consumers have high compared to low expectations of scarcity; that activation of persuasion knowledge can eliminate the positive effect of scarcity appeals; and that cognitive load can reinstate the positive effect of scarcity appeals on product evaluation.

Read full article: Journal of Advertising, 26 January, 2016