Sunday, September 25, 2005

There's always a very strong chance I'm wrong.

Fred Bueltmann from New Holland Brewing commented on my post about marketing scarcity and pointed out some holes in my argument for limiting supply to drive demand. And — damn him — he makes an excellent point.

I've edited Fred's comments a bit — his full response is with my post. Here's the abridged version:

"I think that your analogy is good, but a little bit dangerous. Compare it to your New York observation — you're not interested in eating at Pastis often, nor do you want to be with New York right now. If we developed this feeling in our regular customers, we'd have people who were convinced they couldn't get our products, and therefore may stop trying.

My suggestion is that you must balance the 'specialness' and the 'hard to get' aspects with reliability and consumer confidence. If you have one 'cabbage patch' item that's expensive, hard to get and probably allocated, you'd be well served to have another item or brand that keeps your customer sated and engaged.

I imagine it changes a good deal depending on the industry, but I think it's relatively consistent. A line at a restaurant is a good thing. Keeping it the right size is an art."

It seems Fred has used the real world experience he's gained after years of marketing craft beer to take apart my half-assed theory. And with surgical precision, I might add. I read his comments and thought of the old line, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

I probably should have done more to explain that I think scarcity is something to consider when you're marketing something truly extraordinary. But Fred's point — here, I must damn him again — about having another item to keep people engaged makes great sense. Probably far greater sense than my own wine besotted entry did.

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