The Power of Exclusivity

by Julie Primrose

Companies dream of everyone rushing to buy their product or use their service on the first day it’s available.  But should they, really?

For years, marketers have limited the supply of popular products to sustain consumer demand.  Some of the world’s biggest brands have been successfully employing this strategy for years, but it seems this tactic is increasingly being used as the world becomes more digitally connected.

The most recent example is Google+.  Google has chosen to reserve its new social network for individuals who receive a personal invitation.  Surely Google has the capability of allowing more users onto Google+, but it has chosen to treat it like an exclusive club … you have to already know a member to get in.

Google takes an important lesson from the most popular social media site, Facebook.  In its early days, Facebook was limited to Harvard students, and eventually college students in general.  If you didn’t have an “.edu” email address, you weren’t invited to the party.

Consumer products have been relying on this tactic for years as well, with perhaps the most successful company being Apple.  People wait in line for hours to be the first to buy the latest Apple products, knowing there is a limited supply available.  Apple was just able to meet the demand for the iPad2 this month.  The demand for the iPad is staggering, but surely Apple could ramp up its production if it wanted to.

But would customers still covet the iPad or the latest iPhone if they could go to an Apple store on the release date and pick one up from a towering stack?  I don’t think so.

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