Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 28, 2009 9:27 PM

The Death Of Scarcity

Editors used to control the journalists and decided which words made it to which pages. Music companies used to control the musicians and decided which albums made it into the record stores. TV stations used to control the actors and decided who got to star in which programs. 

From luxury items to concert tickets, everything we've really known (and been successful with) in the Marketing industry was (to some extent) based on the scarcity model. Whether it was 20% more or 40% off, it was always for a "limited time". So, here's another shift that we don't talk about enough: the new media channels are not about scarcity, they are about abundance. It's not about deciding who gets access to who, it's about everybody having access to everybody.

Can we truly understand value without the scarcity?

Whether we're talking about comic books or an old bottle wine, we tend to place a higher value on the things that we can only have less of. Don't believe me? Look at the environment. Pushing this idea out further, notice how the most modern of new media mavens get all excited when they are featured on national television or score a book deal. The reality is that everyone has a Blog or Twitter account (just like them), but if they can get their content into a place that others cannot, then it's that much more exciting.

Those calling for the death of traditional mass media, don't really understand what is going to happen.

We (as a collective society) know no other way. If you take away the scarcity, we truly have no idea how to value it. In fact, I'd argue that we don't value it. Personal anecdote: I await - with bated breath - the latest issue of Wired Magazine but have no issue deleting 180 news items from the Wired Blog as "mark as read". Why? Simply put, the magazine comes out only once a month, it is scarce when compared to the twenty-four hour onslaught of digital content through my RSS reader. Once someone curates and edits the content in print versus simply filling the digital void, the value of the content in the magazine "seems" scarcer than a model where the funnel needs to constantly be filled.

How are Marketers really going to Market and connect with consumers if what they're Marketing is no longer scarce (or perceived that way) or if the channels in which they're Marketing are no longer perceived as valuable because anybody and everybody can publish?

By Mitch Joel