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Developing brand by restricting sales

A fascinating concept, but one that we’ve seen work repeatedly during our time in both the real and digital space.

The concept.

By slowing/stopping or delaying the sales process, you increase the desire for your brand.

This concept runs parallel to our thought on ‘reducing pressure during the sales process’ and can ultimately be used as a technique dynamically in any business. We’ll run through some scenarios where it is used already (you may have come across some as a consumer) and how it can be used to benefit your business. We’ll also run through some of the pitfalls or things to watch out for.

Scenarios of use

Have you attempted to purchase a car lately? (2021-2022) Chances are you’ve been placed on a waiting list and probably won’t see your shiny new automobile for 9-12 months.

It was only a year ago that you could have walked into a car sales yard and had a new car pretty much immediately, so what changed and how does it affect brand?

Excuses for restriction of sales.
Supply chain issues for multiple parts, shipping delays due to Covid, huge demand, staffing issues overseas (the list goes on).

Is everyone still buying, regardless of the delay?
Yes, with a small deposit to secure the sale.

Has the restriction of sales damaged or benefited the brand?
Most brands seem to be benefiting from the restriction of sales. Most now have strong forecast growth from deposits. The purchaser makes peace with the timeline for delivery ‘All good things come to those who wait’. The brand gets to reinforce messaging that ‘quality takes time’, and can focus on pre-purchase marketing to drive excitement as delivery comes closer. And if a purchaser loses patience and cancels their order, currently there are 100,000’s of other customers ready to pickup their cancellation.

The chase is better than the catch.
As with luxury items and rare commodities, the exclusive nature of owning something that is hard to come by is the driving force behind the ‘want and desire’ from the purchaser. Having to wait is a delightful part of the process and one that can drive brand equity higher.

Developing Brand

Restriction in your business

Not knowing your exact business makes this a bit tricky. However there are generalised cases where restriction can be used.

Where demand outstrips supply.
This one is pretty obvious however many business operators forget that when demand is greater than supply, pricing and time is the only part of the transaction equation that is flexible. Simply put, when you regularly run out of a product it is a good sign that you should restrict its sales flow – secure a deposit and communicate to the customer that getting the product to them is a priority but there is a wait time. Essentially you’ve still made a sale, but you’ve also added great customer service by adding multiple touchpoints to develop brand and ensure they remember your brand.

Where supply is broken.
This one is tricky, but still an effective method to drive brand through restriction.
Again, customer service is the key to driving multiple touchpoints with your customer to help them remember your brand. Employ the same restriction method, take a deposit and inform the customer of the delay in getting the product to them.

No supply.
While we don’t endorse this method, we’ve seen operators effectively use restriction when they literally have no supply of product. These operators will simply take a deposit to secure the product, inform the customer of the delay time and use this deposit to secure the actual product from wholesalers. The delay communication allows adequate time for production to delivery while also building brand awareness along the way. This method is risky, yet when you look closely at the marketplace you can see is quite a common activity.

This method is even more interesting and reinforces the power of brand growth through restriction. With oversupply (imagine a business operator securing a special price from their wholesaler and purchasing 10x their requirement), restriction can be used to drive brand growth in an interesting way. The business would communicate that the product is restricted to create rarity. The delay is communicated to the customer after their deposit. The product is drip feed from supply after a nominated period. Oversupply technique is clever, yet deceptive as the communication that is served to the customer is ultimately untrue.

Use with Caution

As with any brand developing exercise, be careful!
Similarly with real world relationships, brands and their equity are affected by trust, care and respect. A person or brand that is communicating that ‘they don’t have much of something’ when in reality they have copious amounts, is highly risked and primed to lose trust/respect from their friends/customers – Different situations demand different responses, so communicate with care.

Steven Vawdrey - VAUX
Written by Steven Vawdrey