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Abstract

The scarcity effect is a powerful social-influence principle used by marketers to increase the subjective desirability of products. This study explores cross-national differences in proneness to the scarcity effect and attempts to explain observed differences in terms of boundary conditions. Results of a shopping simulation experiment show a positive effect of scarcity on purchase intent and a greater proneness to such among participants from a lower- (U.S.) versus higher- (France) context culture. Moreover, the scarcity effect is moderated by product familiarity, uncertainty avoidance, and need for cognitive closure. Differential familiarity levels may help explain the observed cross-national differences. Managerial implications concern the conditions under which marketing appeals based on scarcity should be more (versus less) persuasive. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.