Thursday, October 27, 2011

Exclusivity


I have eaten three McRib sandwiches in the last month.  My liver probably wants to die and I’m positive I’ve shaved 5 years off my life by consuming these delicious enigmas of the fast food world.  There is a commercial on TV right now for the McRib, it’s this newlywed couple on their way to their honeymoon when the rookie husband has a revelation that the McRib is back and laments on missing it.  My wife recently went out of town so I was left to myself for an entire weekend, which I can assure you was full of me being lost and realizing how much I like being married and having my wife around.  So, what’s a young man to do when his wife is out of town?  Party, drink like a fish, spend quiet time reading, catch up on Tosh.0?  None, of these happened, as I was lost, however, the one beckon of hope that gave me some direction was the McRib.  I met with a friend on a Friday night and we went to McDonalds and hung out talking and devouring McRibs.  After I placed my order the girl who rang me up inquires, “Are those really good (Yes, I was just as shocked that an employee of McDonalds had never tried one of their products)?”  I had to wipe the boyish smirk off my face caused by the anticipation of my reunion with an old friend, McRib, but mustered up an answer that fascinated myself and anyone else within an earshot.  “Well, they are probably not as good as I think, they really just taste like the “rib” sandwiches you got in elementary school, but I guess because it only comes around every so often it’s a lot better in my head.”

That is a fascinating retort, especially coming out of a mouth salivating with anticipation for the very product it was moderating.  A good question to consider for myself was why do I crave this little sandwich that I know is going to make me feel horrible for the rest of the night and probably the next three days?  Is it because of the high quality meat or luscious roll it’s served on?  Does it really taste that good?  If the McRib was always on the menu would I eat at McDonalds and endure the pain it causes me every week?  The resounding answer is no.  But why is it no?  Humans value feeling important at some level, whether they acknowledge it or not.  We all desire to feel or to be made to feel important.  It is a large driving force in decisions we make.  When there is a club that only certain people can get into or a special product that is limited to the number of consumers it is available to, we want that.  We want to feel important by being included in things that are limited.  Does the McRib magically turn you important?  Absolutely not, that’s an absurd thought.  The principle behind its success is the principle of exclusivity.  Facebook started as a very inclusive social networking community.  You could only join if you were enrolled at an approved college, which was confirmed by your email address.  Unfortunately Google+ didn’t see as much success following this pattern, they used invites.  Companies that are successful use this principle in some way.  Starbucks has its seasonal lattes, which in truth can be made year round since they have the syrups, but only push them as seasonal.  McDonald’s has its McRib.  Candy companies only release their candy canes around the holidays.  The examples could go on for quite some time, but the underlying truth is that making something exclusive boosts people’s interest naturally.  Is the MsRib as spectacular as I like to tell myself?  Probably not, however, limiting me to something makes me look forward to its return.  Where do you see this principle in the works?  Is your company using exclusivity as a clever marketing ploy?  I am enamored each year at the amount of attention the McRib gets because of this principle.  Exclusivity summons the very essence of our being by tempting us with limitations.  Exclusivity is a powerful tool that can be used for much good if managed appropriately and applied conservatively.

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