The Influence of Sold-Out Products

Sold-out products cre­ate “inform­a­tion cas­cades” where we infer that the next-best item must also be of a sim­il­ar high qual­ity and value for money: sold-out items ‘val­id­ate’ sim­il­ar products, per­suad­ing us to pur­chase more read­ily.

“Sold-out products cre­ate a sense of imme­di­acy for cus­tom­ers; they feel that if one product is gone, the next item could also sell out. […] Research shows there’s also an inform­a­tion cas­cade, where people infer that if a product is sold out, it must have been good and there­fore a sim­il­ar avail­able product will also be desir­able.”

The study […] found 61 per cent of shop­pers would buy a par­tic­u­lar five-hour ski pass for $20, but that fig­ure rose to 91 per cent when they thought a 10-hour ski pass for the same moun­tain slope for $40 had sold out.

A sim­il­ar study of mer­lot wines found 49 per cent of con­sumers would buy a bottle if they had one choice, but when they thought a sim­il­ar wine had sold out next to it on the shelf, nearly twice the num­ber of shop­pers would take home the avail­able bottle.

The research­ers note that for com­mon ‘stock’ items a sold-out status breeds con­tempt, where­as new and sold-out products sig­nal an unanti­cip­ated demand for a qual­ity product.

It goes without say­ing that the sold-out items didn’t neces­sar­ily have to exist, right?