Time ScarcityOpen Access

Time Scarcity

We're more likely to act if the clock is ticking…

Crafting a window of time is a delicate art. Use positively to inspire exploration and not to compel decisions that aren’t in a customer’s best interests.

Tomm, B. M., & Zhao, J. (2017). Scarcity impairs online detection and prospective memory. Trials, 40, 50.

The study

Setup

90 people were asked to solve 50 puzzles in either 10 or 40 minutes. A time-saving notification stating that “This question isn’t worth any points. Press A to skip” would pop up for half the puzzles.

Results

Results showed that the time-scarce group ironically were more likely to miss the time-saving notifications due to their heightened focus on task completion.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Time Scarcity increases conversion under a few conditions

Make sure your use of it is on-brand, authentic and not overly-aggressive to avoid harming long-term trust and loyalty.

A big clock with red flashing text may boost sales in the short-term but risks damaging brand perceptions in the longer term and will lead to Reactance in the more behaviorally-aware and in more mature markets with stronger competition. 

Takeaway image

Use time windows for excitement.

Particularly for experiments with new ideas or for seasonal Limited Editions. Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappucino was on sale for 5 days only. It sold out in just 3 and generated 160,000 Instagram posts. 

Takeaway image

Develop novel ways of saving people time.

People who spend money on time-saving purchases report greater life satisfaction (Whillans et al, 2017). 

Amazon and Sainsbury’s are exploring no-queue, no-till shopping. Just scan on the app and leave. How can you free up even a few minutes of our most precious commodity?

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
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Time Scarcity

Time Scarcity

We're more likely to act if the clock is ticking…

Crafting a window of time is a delicate art. Use positively to inspire exploration and not to compel decisions that aren’t in a customer’s best interests.

The study

Setup

90 people were asked to solve 50 puzzles in either 10 or 40 minutes. A time-saving notification stating that “This question isn’t worth any points. Press A to skip” would pop up for half the puzzles.

Results

Results showed that the time-scarce group ironically were more likely to miss the time-saving notifications due to their heightened focus on task completion.

study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

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We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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