The most under-utilised Marketing Tool

There is a great marketing tool that is rarely used in horticulture when it can be applied to fantastic effect – it just takes some courage. Ken Melia from Fear of Missing Out – – cites “Scarcity as the most under-utilised marketing tool today…” and he is absolutely “on the money”.

The notion of scarcity as a marketing tool is not new – we see it in mainstream business all the time with “Limited time only” offers and limited production runs. It is used to sell everything from vacuum cleaners to reproduction artworks to fine wine to hand crafted watches to cars – just watch the Shopping Channel. However, it is rarely used in horticulture where we tend to focus on volume and market saturation.

Scarcity works because if your product is valuable then people will seek it out and buy it – often at a premium – because they know that if they don’t get it now, then it will not be available later. This happens naturally with some products e.g. mangoes which have a limited season, however for many commodities we have “trained” the consumer to expect 12 months supply, often of an inferior quality product that has been stored for long periods and/or imported to fill the supply gap. Perhaps a better idea is to create demand for your product by offering it for a limited time only and at a premium price.

A great example of how this works is the Jazz Apple – – a premium apple variety from Montague. For those of you not familiar with the Jazz apple they are a great tasting, quality apple that is currently available for only a limited season. I am a huge fan and have been for a number of years. I know that Jazz are only available for a short season and that they are excellent quality for the whole time. I regularly pay a premium of $1 to $2 per kg (at least 25%) for the privilege of eating my Jazz apples.

Why? because I love crisp juicy apples and detest the floury, dry product that the supermarkets sell us for the remainder of the year when apples are out of season. As a consumer, I love crisp, juicy apples but I simply don’t buy them when I know they are out of season.

I am hoping that the Montague Family understand one of their secrets to success and keep providing a limited supply of high quality Jazz apples and don’t fall into the volume supply trap that so many others fall into.

But I’m not the only one! Jazz apples recently came onto the market and within 2 days, I had 2 text messages and one email from friends (also fans of Jazz) telling me that Jazz were in the stores. Tell me – do you have consumers eagerly awaiting the arrival of your product in store? If not, why not?

I understand that you may not be able to create and market a specific variety of your product – your own Jazz Apple – but what can you do to make it a “Limited Edition” high quality product that you sell for a premium price?My suggestions include:

  • create an über-quality product – a very high quality product e.g. hand packed into 5kg Black Label boxes for discerning buyers and delivered direct to your customers
  • develop a “Members Only” product offer for people who subscribe to your Fan Club
  • create a limited edition mixed varietal product – different varieties in the same packaging
  • grow a highly specialised niche variety – secure varietal rights if possible

The key elements of a successful “scarcity campaign” are: quality, limited volume or availability, price and effective branding. Use these elements to create a unique product and following in the market.

Scarcity is only one of the ways in which we can “add value” to our products. In future articles and in a future premium webinar we will explore other mechanisms for taking control of your marketing, lifting returns and growing your business.

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