The Hermès Birkin. The Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. Those perfect Everlane pants. What do these items have in common, other than great design? Seemingly endless waiting lists, a phenomenon that fashion has grown accustomed to.
Usually the explanation is that supply can’t keep up with overwhelming demand, emphasizing just how popular the items in question are and, subsequently, justifying the wait. That’s certainly the case sometimes, but industry insiders have long known that there’s another side to the story, too: the enforced waiting list as marketing ploy.
To get the scoop on the often hush-hush subject, we spoke to a woman (requesting anonymity) with ample expertise in fashion PR, having worked for a host of brands and agencies large and small.
See what she had to say below.
“Brands will purposefully underproduce a product and push it via social media, gifting, and PR efforts to create FOMO. Then, after the product has sold out, they’ll continue to generate buzz and build the waiting list online and in-store.
“This actually really helps with production and overcutting issues that a lot of brands have. If you get 100 people to sign up on your waiting list, you can usually guarantee that 75% of them will purchase the item once it’s back in stock. You’ll then want to overproduce that initial number by about 50% to 75% to account for the people who didn’t sign up for your waiting list but will likely purchase the item once it comes back in stock. It’s completely psychological, but you always want something you can’t have.”
“The goal is really to get people crazed about the product so they feel that once it hits the web or the store, if they don’t pull the trigger and purchase immediately, they’ll have to wait, which majorly increases impulse sales. This tactic works best with lower- to moderately priced products that lend themselves easily to impulse purchasing, and it works best for vertical companies that can turn product around fast (i.e., fast-fashion companies).
“You want to get people on that waiting list, but you also want to be able to get them purchasing and off that waiting list as fast as possible. Attention spans are so short with the amount of content we encounter on a daily basis, so if you make someone sit on a waiting list for too long, chances are they’ll fill their craving with something else instead.”
Do you think waiting lists are worth it? Sound off in the comments!
Opening Image: Getty Images