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Scarcity Principle: What It Is and How to Apply It to SaaS Marketing

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SaaS organizations are talented at generating a feeling of urgency and exclusivity that drives clients to make immediate purchases. It could be limited-time deals or countdown timers. But what makes these strategies so effective? Companies may use scarcity to encourage individuals to fill out a lead form, buy a product, or engage in another desired action. In this article, we’ll look at the value of scarcity in SaaS and examples of how businesses use the scarcity principle to have higher demand.

What is the Scarcity Principle?

The scarcity principle in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) marketing is a psychological concept that leverages the perception of limited availability or scarcity to create a sense of urgency and drive customer behavior. It suggests that people place a higher value on things that are scarce or in limited supply.

In other words, customers want to buy a product more if they fear it will soon be unavailable. The scarcity effect taps into customers’ desire for scarce resources by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity, leading to increased demand and higher perceived value.

Pros and Cons of Using the Scarcity Principle in Marketing



It’s crucial for businesses to carefully consider the pros and cons of using the scarcity principle, ensuring it aligns with their brand values, target audience, and overall marketing strategy. Transparency, ethical practices, and a balance between scarcity and genuine value are essential to successfully leverage this principle.


  • Increased sales. The scarcity principle can create a sense of urgency and drive customers to make faster purchasing decisions, leading to increased sales and revenue. The fear of missing out on a limited-time offer or a scarce product motivates customers to take immediate action, resulting in increased sales and revenue.
  • Heightened perceived value. By limiting availability or offering exclusive access, the scarcity principle enhances the perceived value of products or services, making them more desirable to customers.
  • Enhanced customer engagement. Scarcity-based promotions and limited-time offers can generate excitement, engagement, and customer anticipation, leading to increased interest and participation.
  • Competitive advantage. Using the scarcity principle effectively can differentiate a brand from its competitors, making it stand out in a crowded market and capturing customers’ attention.


  • Potential ethical concerns. Misleading or manipulative use of scarcity tactics can lead to negative customer experiences and damage a brand’s reputation. It’s vital to ensure transparency and avoid deceptive practices.
  • Loss of trust. If scarcity is not genuine or consistently utilized, customers may perceive it as a marketing gimmick, losing trust in the brand and its messaging.
  • Limited target audience. Scarcity tactics may only resonate with some customer segments. Some customers may find them off-putting or view them as unnecessary pressure, potentially leading to alienation or a negative perception of the brand.
  • Dependency on continuous scarcity. Relying solely on scarcity-based marketing may create an unsustainable business model, as constant scarcity may not be feasible or effective in the long run.

5 Common Models of a Scarcity Principle

Scarcity Principle Model

Source: Pixabay

In the context of SaaS marketing, the scarcity principle can be applied in various ways to encourage customers to take action, such as.

1. Limited-time offers

Offering time-limited promotions or discounts creates a sense of urgency and encourages customers to make a purchasing decision sooner rather than later.

2. Limited quantity

Highlighting the limited availability of a product or service, such as a limited number of licenses or seats, can create a fear of missing out (FOMO) and drive customers to act quickly to secure their spot.

3. Exclusive features or access

Promoting exclusive features, early access, or beta programs to a limited customer group can create exclusivity and drive interest and demand.

4. Seasonal or event-based offers

Introducing limited-time offers tied to specific events or seasons can tap into the scarcity principle by emphasizing the temporary availability and encouraging customers to take advantage of the offer before it expires.

5. Pre-orders or waiting lists

Allowing customers to pre-order or join waiting lists for upcoming products or features can create anticipation and a desire to be among the first to gain access, leveraging the scarcity principle.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Scarcity Principle Strategies

It’s important to aim for a balance when applying the scarcity principle in SaaS marketing, ensuring that the scarcity is transparent. The goal is to create a genuine sense of urgency while providing real value to customers.

Let’s consider 5 examples of how real companies use this principle to drive business growth.

Dropbox: the power of referral programs

Dropbox, a cloud storage and file synchronization service, employed a highly successful referral program that leveraged the scarcity principle. By offering extra storage space as a reward for referring friends, Dropbox not only incentivized its existing users to spread the word but also created a sense of scarcity by limiting the amount of additional storage available. This scarcity-driven referral program significantly impacted Dropbox’s rapid user growth, increasing its user base from 100,000 to over 4 million within 15 months.

Evernote: exclusive beta testing

Evernote, a note-taking and productivity app, employed the scarcity principle through an exclusive beta testing strategy. By limiting access to their beta version, Evernote created a sense of exclusivity and generated anticipation among users eager to try out the innovative product. This scarcity-driven approach not only generated buzz and media coverage but also created a strong community of early adopters who felt privileged to be part of the testing phase.

Salesforce: limited-time discounts

Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, successfully utilizes the scarcity principle through limited-time discounts and promotions. By offering time-limited discounts or special pricing, Salesforce creates a sense of urgency and encourages potential customers to make a purchase decision quickly. This strategy has been particularly effective during major events like Dreamforce, where limited-time discounts drive increased sales and registrations.

Basecamp: restricted customer onboarding

Basecamp, a project management and team collaboration platform, leverages scarcity by restricting the number of new customer sign-ups it accepts. By limiting the availability of their service, Basecamp creates a perception of exclusivity and high demand. This scarcity-driven approach not only enhances the perceived value of their product but also creates a sense of urgency among potential customers, leading to increased sign-ups.

Adobe: limited-time cloud storage offer

Adobe, a leading creative software provider, has effectively used the scarcity principle in its marketing campaigns for Creative Cloud subscriptions. By offering limited-time discounts or promotional pricing, Adobe creates a sense of urgency for users to upgrade or subscribe to their services. This scarcity-driven approach has successfully generated conversions and boosted Adobe’s subscription revenue.


The scarcity principle has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for SaaS companies. Strategic implementation of scarcity-based marketing strategies can effectively capture audience attention, drive engagement, and achieve business objectives in the competitive SaaS landscape.

Real-life examples from Dropbox, Evernote, Salesforce, Basecamp, and Adobe demonstrate how scarcity-based strategies drive customer acquisition, conversions, and brand loyalty. By creating a sense of exclusivity and urgency, these companies successfully tap into consumers’ fear of missing out.

However, it is essential to implement scarcity ethically and transparently to maintain trust and avoid negative customer experiences. As the SaaS industry evolves, leveraging psychological principles like scarcity will remain crucial for companies aiming to stand out.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

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