Does Scarcity Add Value in Influencing Consumers in the Try-Before-You-Buy Model?

Jonathan Jackson and Xun Xu
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 26, Number 1, 2022, pp. 25-48.


The number of shopping options for consumers in the e-commerce retail environment continues to expand. One such option allows consumers to try products at home before committing to purchase, referred to as the Try-Before-You-Buy (TBYB) model. This study examines the role of scarcity in affecting consumers’ product acceptance intention. Our results reveal that product scarcity increases both consumers’ perceived utilitarian value and hedonic value, which enhance their product acceptance intention in the TBYB model. Additionally, we find that price scarcity also stimulates consumers’ product acceptance intention, but channel scarcity does not. Furthermore, we find that a high hassle cost does not necessarily increase consumers’ passive acceptance intention of products in the TBYB model. Our findings provide implications for TBYB retailers to enhance consumers’ intention to accept products through advertising the scarcity of their products and price, improving both the utilitarian values and hedonic values of their product offerings, but not setting obstacles for consumers to return their products. This study helps companies understand consumers’ perception in the TBYB model, which is critical to improving overall performance. This study also contributes to uniqueness theory by revealing that the effect of scarcity on consumers’ perceived uniqueness is not uniform. Scarcity in product acquisition and scarcity in payment have a higher impact on consumers’ perceived uniqueness than the scarcity of process in terms of the channel in which consumers use to acquire the products.