Marlboro and their deliberate programme of scarcity marketing

If any of you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been a struggling smoker for most of my adult life. It’s my own version of scarcity marketing, in that I find it quite easy to give it up for a month or so, and then think I’m missing out on something, so drift back into it and the cycle begins again.

I recently wrote a piece here about Knob Creek and their restricted supply which is pushing demand (and prices) up.

Well now, Marlboro are doing it with their website. You can only access this site if you are USA based and are prepared to add your social security details and full address to prove you are over 21 years of age (even though you can buy them at aged 18 years)


The very frustrating Marlboro website that i can get this far into, only to be told that as I don't live in the USA and can't prove i'm 21 or over, I can't access!

They don’t have a UK page at all. You can only get past the first page if you can say what state you are in and then give them a real zip code (rather than a series of random numbers).

And, according to their figures, its working wonders. The more we are told we can’t have something or shouldn’t do something, the more we strive to do/own it. It’s our own rebel reflex in action and I’m convinced its part of their plan. They make it seem like it’s really worth getting onto and then make you really jump through hoops to get registered.

It’s working so well they are now getting 1.5 million unique visitors a month and I haven’t got a clue what they are all dying to see, because I can’t get onto the site to find out.

Clever, very clever. But very frustrating.

If anyone can get in, can they let me know how they did it?

Even though I’m not smoking at the moment.


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