1981… McRib launches. But then sales numbers came in. Unfortunately, they were lower than expected at launch. McDonald’s tried promotions and features, but not much worked. So after a few years it dropped the McRib, citing Americans’ lack of interest in pork.
A decade later, however, McDonald’s figured out a clever way to increase demand for the McRib. It didn’t spend more money on advertising. It didn’t change the price. It didn’t even change the ingredients.
It just made the product more scarce.
Sometimes it would bring the product back nationally for a limited time; in other cases it would offer it at certain locations but not others. One month it would be offered only at franchises in Kansas City, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Two months later it would be offered only in Chicago, Dallas, and Tampa.
And its strategy worked. Consumers got excited about the sandwich. Facebook groups stated popping up asking the company to “bring back the McRib!”
Excerpt from: Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger