How Do You Do The GMail Thing?February 5, 2013 4:23 am
The GMail launch was notable for a lot of reasons. Managing demand and supply is extremely critical when a product is launched. It works both ways – if you cannot get your product on the shelves when there is demand (like Google did, with the Nexus 4) it could be loss of revenue, rightaway. But in some cases you can manipulate the supply to create an illusion of a shortage of supply. This is a trick that we have seen work very well in the past – when you bring something to the market, creating an illusion of a shortage of supply somehow ensures that the audience suddenly considers the product or service in question as ‘valuable’. Moreover, it makes the people who manage to get it feel part of an ‘exclusive’ club, and the feeling is so strong, that they will absolutely flaunt the fact that they are part of that exclusive club.
To easily grasp this concept, let us look at the GMail example. When Google launched GMail, not everyone could get it – you had to be ‘invited’ to get it, and people who had a GMail id, ensured that they used it wherever they could – this was a ‘coolness symbol’ for quite some time.
So the question is this: for a product that is free, how do you create an illusion of shortage of supply, so as to benefit from the resulting ‘perceived value’ and viral effects? How exactly do you do the GMail thing?