How does scarcity promotion lead to impulse purchase in the online market? A field experiment

Yi Wu, Liwei Xin, Dahui Li, Jie Yu, Junpeng Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Online retailers employ two strategies of limited-quantity and limited-time to entice consumers’ impulse purchases. However, little research has investigated the effects of these promotion strategies. Drawing on the competitive arousal model and the scarcity model, this paper develops a research model to demonstrate the influences of limited-quantity scarcity (LQS) and limited-time scarcity (LTS) on impulse purchase through the mediating mechanism of perceived arousal. By setting up a new online store on a well-known Chinese e-commerce platform, we conducted a field experiment with 182 participants to test our research model. The results provided strong evidence that both LQS and LTS increased a consumer's perceived arousal, which then led to impulse purchase. Furthermore, there was an interaction effect between the two types of scarcity strategies on perceived arousal. Finally, although personal impulsiveness positively affected a consumer's impulse purchase, it did not moderate the influence of perceived arousal on impulse purchase. Our findings provide both theoretical implications and design guidelines on triumphant employment of scarcity promotion strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103283
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to sincerely thank the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, and anonymous reviewers for their highly constructive comments through the whole process. This study was partially funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 71802147 , 71671121 ) and the Chinese Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science Fund ( 17YJC630173 ).

Funding Information:
Junpeng Guo is a professor of the Dept. of Information Management and Management Science in Tianjin University. He received his Ph. D. degree in Management Science from Tianjin University, China, 2004. His main research interests include social media, recommender system, symbolic data analysis, and operational research. He is the principal investigator of several projects funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China . H e has authored over 40 academic papers in international journals (e.g., Journal of Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Electronic Commerce Research, and Applications ), Chinese journals and international conferences. Additionally, he is the qualified member of Operational Research Society of China (ORSC) and the director of Operational Research Society of Tianjin, China. He has also served as the reviewer of many international journals and conferences. In 2010, he was invited as the visiting professor at Mays business school of Texas A&M University, US. In 2016, he was invited as the visiting professor at the Dept. of Information Systems at the National University of Singapore.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Limited-Quantity scarcity
  • Limited-Time scarcity
  • Online impulse purchase
  • Perceived arousal
  • Personal impulsiveness


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