Exclusivity Creates Demand

Published 28th October 2010

“The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club”.

Standing doing the washing up this morning I was thinking about exclusivity. In the recent film The Social Network they make a point of highlighting the fact that when Facebook was starting up it was exclusive. You needed an Harvard email address to be able to join. Then as the site grew other prestigious schools were allowed to join.

I also realised this is what happens in the film Fight Club. The above quote states the first two rules about Fight Club. Yet the club grows rapidly because word leaks out (but it is meant to be exclusive only to those who know) and people want to join.

The I realised, exclusivity creates demand. Ok I’m no business mastermind and this might well be common knowledge. However I was thinking about how this worked and two examples of websites that have made it work recently, Dribbble and Forrst. Both sites operate an invite only policy and grew by making invites so sparse you were considered to be exclusive if you got one.

Everyone knows the feeling of being on the outside of the group, and this is where exclusivity can be used to create demand. People want to be in on something, even if they don’t really want it or know what it is. The fact they don’t have it (and others do) makes them want it. And this is how many successful websites and communities have grown.