Rare Beer Club: The Power of Scarcity and What It Wields Over Us

pliny-release

The collection of people waiting was past 100. Many had camped out overnight.

A reporter and cameraman surveyed the crowd. Inside the building, they approached a table of sleepy eyed friends, looking quiet in contemplation. Or maybe they were just zoned out from sleep deprivation.

“How long did you guys stand in line?” the reporter asked the table of eight.

“About 11 hours,” they all answered in unison, not blinking.

But a moment later, boy did they look happy to have been some of the first into Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger release.

Of course, the annual, one-time sale of the imperial IPA isn’t the only occasion for beer lovers to get in a tizzy, whether it’s waiting overnight for Foothills Brewing’s Sexual Chocolate imperial stout or rioting for Hunaphu’s imperial stout at Cigar City Brewing. As the beer world continues to get bigger, it’s clear that people are willing to pay in time, money and sanity for the chance of being a part of something small.

“Scarcity has this effect of making people perceive products as more valuable simply for the fact that they’re scarce,” business psychologist Nir Eyal told NPR in 2014, when, naturally, the network was covering the hype of Pliny the Elder, the sister beer of Pliny the Younger.

Crazed reactions over scarce items is nothing new, especially in an increasingly locally-focused industry that prides itself on regionalism, if not literal hometown favoritism. But whether you’re a local hoping for a legendary bottle of beer or an out-of-towner traveling hundreds of miles for your chance at fermented immortality, the power of scarcity is real, it is psychological and it is physiological.

When it comes to our internal cost-benefit analysis of these situations, does the perceived benefit trump logic? Can scarcity marketing rule our minds as well as our pint glasses?

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Achieving Beervana … or: The Perfect Beer World Nov. 2012 “The Session”

For this month’s “Session” blog post, Jorge over at Brew Beer and Drink It has posed the question of the Perfect Beer World. That is, what will bring us closer to creating our ideal state of be(er)ing. See what I did there?

There are lots of places to start – perhaps world peace would encourage greater brewery collaborations? Saison du BUFF, anyone? But I’m not going to waste my time with such trivial, Kumbaya-like thinking. World peace is a pretty big task when we have a few easy fixes right here at home.

So let’s grab a brew, salute the flag and hit the jump to see how we can create the Perfect Beer World right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, and maybe get some help from our friends around the globe too.
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