The Kanye West Pop Up and Scarcity

Back in March, 22-time Grammy-award winner Kanye West opened up a temporary Pop-Up store in Soho, which generated over 2 million dollars. Not bad at all. Fast forward to last week, the rapper published a Tweet revealing 21 world temporary Pop-Up “Life of Pablo” stores. Life of Pablo is Kanye’s latest album. It seems like it’s already challenging to get a hold of Yeezy merchandise to begin with, so thousands of fans around the world starting posting outside the stores hours before they opened. Even David Beckham and his son Cruz were among the people who flocked to Kanye’s Pop-Ups.

“I have been waiting for 18 hours,” says James Marshall, a 25-year-old fitness instructor. The limited edition apparel and “Life of Pablo” merchandise ranges from $45 for a white hat, to an original “Pablo” military jacket for $325. That’s the most popular item, according to a store rep, who said the solid green jacket had sold out by 4 p.m in Detroit.

The tactic Kanye West is using to sell millions of dollars in merchandise in a short time is often called the Scarcity Principle.

The key to success in any business is an understanding of psychology. All human beings essentially have the same mental triggers that drive actions. In order to influence and understand your customers or clients, you need to know what those triggers are and how to utilize them in your marketing message. It’s a lot simpler than you might think. And the best part is that, as you strive to increase revenue, you will serve consumers better.

Why? Because our minds decide what to buy. So if you know how minds function, you have the power to influence the decisions they make (chills). There are various triggers that can be used to drive more sales or acquire more clients. We’re only focusing on scarcity today.

So to simplify, the less there is of something, the more people perceive it to be a highly valued commodity, which in turn means they will be more inclined to buy.

This principle can be commonly used in two broad methods:

  • Limited-number: Item is in short supply and won’t be available once it runs out.
  • Deadline (Limited-time): Item is only available during that time period.

Kanye’s 21-city pop-up shop was definitely calculated. West tweeted a link last Wednesday night to his pop-up’s locations, instantly alerting his 25 million followers. According to a security inside a Detroit mall, fans started lining up on the sidewalk (where they slept) Thursday night. The mall opened doors at 7am, and the shop, blasting tracks from the rapper’s latest album “The Life of Pablo,” let in 20 customers at a time at 9 am.

Kanye West is an artist who I would consider to be very self-aware. While there are many who dislike him for his constant display of ego and bravado, others consider him a cultural phenomenon. Yolanda Smith, 46, had a few words to describe the hype. “This is ludicrous,” she says, shaking her head at the winding line. “Back in my day, I guess Michael Jackson would have caused the same phenomenon.”

Well done Kanye…well done.

I’m not sure if I could ever put Kanye West and Michael Jackson in the same category, but I will say that Kanye West is a mastermind artist and businessman. It’s tactics like these what differentiate an average brand from an iconic one. If you are struggling with implementing a trigger in your business or have any questions about how to do so, post them in the comments below and I promise to answer every single one of them.