Want to come to a party?
We’re not allowed to tell you where or when, but we promise it will be amazing! You won’t be allowed in if you’re not on the list, and space is limited, but if you sign up now you can reserve a spot.
That was about as much information as anyone received when the opportunity to join a mysterious club arose in 2012. The 11K Club successfully launched with the promise of offering a single “exceptional benefit” to a select group of people who applied to join. Despite the lack of information, over 13,000 people submitted applications based on curiosity alone.
Exclusivity is form of social currency. In other words, people share and consume what makes them look and feel good by association. Being part of an exclusive group is an inherently desirable quality because it elevates one’s perceived status compared to outsiders. Additionally, being “allowed” to partake in something bolsters the relationship between product and consumer and promotes further engagement with the brand.
Imagine you’re in college, and someone invites everyone in school to his party next week. You probably won’t jump at this opportunity. But, what if you hear that only the coolest kids got invited and people from other schools will be there? You may suddenly really want to go. Facebook used this “nah-nah, poo-poo” factor to its advantage when it launched in 2004. Originally available only to Harvard students, the social media platform created a remarkable amount of hype in its first year as students nationwide champed at the bit waiting for the site to include their university. Even then, it would be another year before Facebook was available to the public. The immense success of the site is due largely to the waiting, wanting, (and likely bragging) that this exclusivity strategy generated.
Chinese cell phone producers OnePlus has taken a page from Facebook’s book and run away with it. You need to request an invite from the company or a previous OnePlus customer to purchase a OnePlus phone. Not exclusive enough? If you’re lucky enough to find one, you only have 3 days to follow up with a purchase, lest you forfeit your spot! This not only makes customers feel like A-listers for having “made the cut,” it deepens the relationship they have with the brand and fosters a sense of obligation to act urgently with a purchase.
While the instinct might be to invite everyone to your “party” to maximize the chances of success through sheer volume of exposure, this is not always the best way to throw down. Ask any college student (or even the head of their university) and they will tell you that rejection creates value.
So whether you are throwing a party or launching a new product, it’s time to bust out the velvet ropes.
A little exclusivity can get people talking about how smart, funny and cute you are, and greatly increase your brand’s equity.