Prime Hydration, the sports drink created by KSI and Logan Paul, has leant heavily on the psychology of persuasion for its UK launch.
Prime Hydration - the business venture between YouTubers and former boxing rivals Logan Paul and KSI aka Olajide Olatunji - has completely sold out in the UK.
The craze has been fuelled by the sports drink’s limited availability. The launch strategy closely follows the scarcity-principle of persuasion coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his seminal text: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. “Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited” writes Cialdini.
Originally launched in the UK last summer the drink was until recently only available to buy online. To broaden distribution ASDA started stocking the sugar-free drink shortly before Christmas. Aldi then offered the drink as a limited offer after Christmas. Both supermarkets faced a rush of customers as Prime quickly sold out. Prime understood well FOMO - the idea that potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. Limiting supply made the drinks desirable in several ways:
Value creation: As sneakerheads or vinyl enthusiasts will attest if it’s rare it’s likely to be more valuable. One listing on eBay has the 500ml grape-flavoured drink listed for £2,500. Prime's scarcity in the UK has made it more desirable.
Limiting purchases: Cialdini notes the most straightforward use of the scarcity principle is when the customer is limited to the number of units they can buy. Aldi Tweeted: “we are limiting the sale of these to 1 of each flavour per customer.” This action both cements the idea of scarcity and promotes the perceived value of the drink.
Deadline: Cialidini notes that we often make decisions because the time to do so is shrinking. Last week Aldi Tweeted: “We're sorry to say once this is sold out it won't be restocked”. This made the drink even more attractive to customers. More than high social proof of an attractive product. More than FOMO. Customers became motivated by competition. The one-upmanship of competition to snag one of the seven flavours of the electrolyte-rich drink.
Timing of the limited product release was also key. Children were off school for the Christmas holidays. Many accompanying their parents on supermarket visits. Pester power played a role in the product success.
Future attraction: Social experiments have found that products in short supply are usually rated as “more desirable … in the future, more attractive as a consumer item, and more costly than [a similar product] in abundant supply,” according to Cialdini.
Far from a blundered UK rollout, Prime Hydration has orchestrated a clever, impactful event which has successfully fed into the mainstream media news cycle, as well as social media, during the Christmas and New Year period when stories are often scant.
Launched in the US in early January 2022 - and quickly selling out - the firm has had a year to forecast likely uptake. It knew the likely unit volumes it could shift in the UK, and built the scarcity principle into the launch plan in order to maximise effectiveness.
A version of this article first appeared on January 04 as a column for the Influencer Marketing Digest - the weekly newsletter I am commissioned to write for Fourth Floor. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here.