The Principle of Scarcity at Work at a new Hamilton Restaurant

Went to Smith and McKenzie Chop House on the weekend. Quite an experience.

Seth Godin (my #1 favourite marketer in the world), says that you have to tell a story to have any chance of selling what you are selling.

Smith and McKenzie tells a story.

As soon as you walk in you notice the high ceilings, the open kitchen, the multiple seating areas, the meat hooks hanging from the bar and the old freezer doors between between the areas (they recycled materials from the old Horonui Freezing Works), the massive pipes leading from the keg room to the bar, and the 6m tall shelving units (almost 3 stories high) full of wines, beers and spirits .

At the bar leaners while waiting to be seated we read about the back-story, their history, on an A5 display unit. We find out how the idea of a “chop house” comes from the states, and how it stands for quality ingredients – especially when it comes to cuts of meat.

We sit down and receive our menus and here’s where the real fun starts.  Each item has it’s own story! An entire paragraph describing where the animal for each cut of meat comes from.

What immediately caught my eye is the Chop House Special: Rib eye that is slow cooked for 16 hours at 59 degrees.  You have to book 24 hours ahead to get one! Wow.

I asked the waitress if she could check if there were any available to me tonight. She returned in a minute with “no, I’m sorry, you’ll have to book ahead next time.”  I want it even more!

And that is the principle of scarcity at work. We want what we can’t have.

You’ve come across statements like “while stocks last!” and “first 10 callers only!”, a million times. But the story behind this example makes it very special, unique, authentic and highly desirable.

Did you notice the risks they are taking?

They are risking me leaving because they can’t give me what I want (I could get up and leave instead of choosing something else from the menu).  They are also locking themselves into the scarcity, because it actually takes 16 hours to cook (compare that to an infomercial selling kitchen knives claiming that stock is limited when you just know they have 10,000 units in their warehouse, and another 10,000 can be on the way from China tomorrow)

Those risks create authenticity.

What story can you tell about your product or service? And how can you introduce the principle of scarcity into it (in an authentic way)?

P.S. I settled for the 400grm T-bone with BBQ sauce (medium rare of course) and it was the best steak I’ve ever had (did the story accentuate the flavour? For sure.)

2 Replies to “The Principle of Scarcity at Work at a new Hamilton Restaurant”

  1. Hi Sheldon, this restaurant is owned by Jason Macklow from the Phoenix Group. The Phoenix Group own a range of other establishments in the Waikato including Iguana Restaurant, CBD Corner Pub, Rodeo Rodeo and House Bar. The group have won several awards for their efforts in the hospitality industry.

    I think you’ll find each establishment has it’s own story to tell and I believe you’d be equally impressed visiting the other establishments.

    Great article, it made me hungry!

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