• Mel Butcher

Scarcity and FOMO as Brand

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

rack of colorful hanging tee-shirts

Years ago, a friend introduced me to a site called Woot! There were several different sections of the Woot! site that sold different types of products. The one we were interested in was tee-shirts.

I'm not a huge fan of graphic tees, but my friend was - a real collector.

There are a ridiculous number of tee sites out there. What made Woot! different?

The set up was something like this: Woot! administrators would pick a theme and invite artists to submit a visual interpretation. These would be placed on a page for a limited amount of time, and registered users could come and upvote the ones they liked. They called it the "derby". When the time was up, the image that won would be printed on a tee-shirt for a limited run. This meant that if you didn't come back to purchase that image you loved and upvoted before it ran out, you were out of luck. So sad, too bad.

I had favorite artists - a few who would consistently submit and it was an interesting sort of joy to see how they visualized "burnin calories," "knock knock," or other random themes.

If I remember correctly, there were occasionally Woot! specials - short bursts when they would bring back some popular designs or run some of the runner-up images.

Here's the thing.

Even though I wasn't super interested in buying tee-shirts, the desire to see what was new, see what the artists had come up with... it had me going back to the site on an almost daily basis. Obviously, it had the same impact on my tee-shirt loving friend, too. Back then, we loved Woot! and we would share it with people.

It was remarkable and fun.

As you have probably already guessed, a behemoth came in and bought the site and ruined the model. No design is scarce because it's now like every other tee-shirt site: a design free-for-all. They took away the sense of urgency, and the fear of missing out (FOMO).


Where have you seen effective use of creating a sense of urgency?

How might you use a sense of urgency or FOMO for your product or service?

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