July 26, 2021

This Is My Treasure and You Can’t Touch It

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What My 6-Year-Old Can Teach Us About Marketing Psychology

The other day my six-year-old daughter Jane came gallivanting downstairs and said to Fred, our three-year-old son, “this is my treasure and you can’t touch it.” What do you think happened next?

Fred wanted that “treasure” so badly. A second earlier, he could’ve cared less about what she was holding. But now that it was off-limits, he had to participate – it almost didn’t even matter what her “treasure” even was. 

Jane accidentally partook in a fundamental piece of marketing psychology. She created value and scarcity. 

The Marketing Mechanics

Let’s break it down just a bit. Jane didn’t have just any old garbage Fred couldn’t touch; this was a “treasure.” She instantly assigned value beyond what she was holding by signifying its importance to her, thereby signaling that value to Fred. It immediately became something he was interested in; after all, his big sister just told him it was valuable to her. Then she followed it up with scarcity; “you can’t touch it.” 

The Technique

Simplified the formula is: value + rarity = interest/demand/high price.

It may not be a winning strategy for every industry. For example, I don’t think Ziploc bags will ever win with this strategy, but defining value for your target audience and then keeping it rare can be a great way to launch a product or sell long term. Rolex and other luxury brands use this strategy very effectively. 

When you launch your next product or try a new marketing approach, consider Jane’s technique – define the “treasure,” and build in some scarcity and see how it works. 

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