Limited Drops: Everything You Need to Know + 4 Brands Doing it Right

How do brands create buzz for their products? In a crowded e-commerce marketplace, finding the right marketing tactics to get your products to stand out can be challenging.

Fortunately, there is an increasingly popular marketing and manufacturing option that can allow your brand to build excitement around unique products without the risks of long term manufacturing: limited drops. Here’s what you need to know about limited drops and how they can help your e-commerce store succeed.

What Is a Limited Drop?

As Stedman Cleveland, CEO & Co-Founder of Aura explains, “A limited drop is essentially a special release product. Drops are limited & exclusive. They sell out fast and serendipitously. On your own, selling a drop can only go so far; as a community, it goes much further.”

Limited drops have become an increasingly popular retail release option, particularly in the e-commerce space as they have a built in marketing strategy and yield quick returns. Moreover, traditional brands that still focus primarily on in-person purchases are also making use of this marketing and manufacturing tactic.

“The biggest advantage offered by a limited drop is that it taps into the scarcity FOMO mindset,” Cleveland explains. “This creates a much bigger drive for everyday customers than a discount, because there is a greater sense of exclusivity associated with the product. For some, it almost becomes like a collector’s item. Not only does this allow brands to sell items for higher margins, but it also creates a community around the brand — where loyal followers connect over the coveted items they’ve managed to obtain.”

In fact, studies have found that among millennials, FOMO has driven 60 percent to make a reactive purchase within 24 hours of experiencing that feeling. The demand and buzz around a limited drop can directly drive sales.

Unsurprisingly, social media has become a major player in making limited drops an increasingly prevalent part of the digital shopping experience. One-third of consumers use social media to discover new products, and one-fourth use it to make purchases. Notably, millennials make over half their purchases online.

Social media is an ideal location to spread the word about limited drops, particularly for younger generations that are more likely to buy online in the first place. With limited drops, consumers are seeing new and exclusive content on their feeds making them excited to make a purchase. 

From a manufacturing perspective, limited drops can help reduce risk. E-commerce brands don’t need to worry about overhead being taken up by unsold inventory. Nor do they need to worry about forecasting future sales for a product that must always be in stock. Small runs that sell out quickly can drastically simplify budgeting and inventory forecasting.

Successful Limited Drop Examples

There are several brands across a wide range of industries that have already successfully implemented limited drops in some form — and not just in the e-commerce space. Here are some of the brands that do it best:

1. Supreme

One of the leading brands in pioneering the use of limited drops, Supreme, a skateboarding lifestyle brand, has used weekly drops to gain popularity. Through collaborations with major brands like Nike, Levi’s and Lacoste, Supreme has created new and innovative designs and grown its cult following.

The clothing brand’s limited drop model has proven so successful (and competitive) that there are even articles helping customers trying to snag the latest merchandise for themselves.

2. Limited Run Games

While the video gaming industry is seeing an increasing number of games receive digital-only releases, Limited Run Games has carved out a unique niche in producing limited drops of physical editions and collector’s editions of these games.

As the company’s website explains, “Our games sell on a pre-order basis. Once pre-orders close or our set quantities are sold out, you won’t be able to purchase anymore. Our games are made-to-order and only printed once. Though this means you’ll have a highly collectable and limited item, it also means you may miss out on what you want.”

Notably, this pre-orders model ensures the company is never left with unsold inventory, helping maximize the profitability of each release.

3. Crumbl Cookies

Limited drops have also proven successful  in the food and beverage industry — though they still often require that customers visit a brick and mortar location. Crumbl Cookies offers a rotating menu with four to five specialty flavors that change each week.

Unsurprisingly, the new menu is announced on social media, creating an ongoing source of engagement for the brand. The company also increases customer engagement by letting each store bake a unique cookie each week that is listed within the company’s app. Getting customers to log into a branded app to look up locally available flavors further boosts the brand’s engagement. 

4. Bear Walker

As featured in The New York Times, Bear Walker produces one set of 250 pop-culture themed skateboards that are released every six weeks. The scarcity mindset enables Walker to focus on making a high-end, high-quality product that has the biggest skateboard enthusiasts strategizing how they can get their hands on one of these limited edition boards.

Notably, some skateboard drops sell out in as little as 45 minutes, with customers often blocking out hours of their schedule just to get a coveted skateboard.

Use Limited Drops to Fuel Your Growth

“With a limited drop, you have a unique way to create ongoing excitement for your brand — and you don’t have to worry as much about supply chain disruptions messing with product availability,” Cleveland says. “Additionally, drops produce less waste and minimize financial risk and overhead costs.”

“When you create the expectation that there’s always something new just around the corner, you’ll keep your loyal customers coming back time and time again to see what you have to offer.”

When doing limited drops, you need a good drop partner who can help you effectively distribute and promote new limited-quantity product runs. Aura provides an end-to-end solution for drop development and discovery. With a quality partner on your side, you can unleash the full potential of limited drops and stand out in your e-commerce niche.

More about Aura:

Founded in 2020 in Los Angeles, CA, by Stedman Cleveland and Bryan Layne, Aura is eCommerce for Social Creators. A drop app for Creators to distribute their limited and exclusive private-label drops, unify their social following, and share their eCommerce-enabled social profiles with a single release. Aura helps sellers sell out faster by increasing their distribution, community, and collaboration reach.  

Stedman Cleveland
CEO and Co-founder of Aura

Image Credit:

–  Featured Image, Aura

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