DEMARKETING ADS: Types, Strategies, Examples, and Case Study

demarketing ads

To many, the term demarketing ads might not ring any bells but such ads can prove invaluable in navigating some tight corners in marketing. Demarketing essentially refers to every and all wilful efforts and strategies made to reduce the demand for a product, especially in a situation, in which there are many examples, where the demand for such is greater than the producer’s ability to supply.

Perhaps, the most effective effort of demarketing is the use of advertising. Advertising is a paid-for, non-personal communication that appears on any mass media, aimed at selling an idea, product, or service.
Although some authorities also consider purposely refusing to market products as demarketing; we are however more concerned with active and paid demarketing.

This article sheds some light on demarketing ads as a concept; looks at the types, strategies, and examples of demarketing ads. It also answers the question of why demarketing ads are important in the business world. To effectively implement this, you would have to read our post on marketing management

Demarketing Ads

Demarketing ads are advertisements put out to discourage (but not destroy) demand for a product at a particular time. To the uninitiated, such ads might seem dangerous, counterproductive, and wasteful. It is, however, important to note that behind every demarketing ad is the intent to cause some favorable effect.

Conceptually, demarketing is not new. The term has been in use in the academic world since the 1970s when Kotler and Levy coined it. In that Harvard Business Review article, Kotler and Levy described a phenomenon that hitherto had no name.

Of course, the concept of demarketing begs the question of reason; why would producers want to actively reduce sales of their products when the natural order is to sell as much?

One of the commonest reasons for demarketing is to remedy a situation in which demand exceeds the producer’s ability or desire to supply. This might be due to poor or non-existent distribution channels. Also, when selling in a particular region registers very little gain, demarketing becomes necessary in curbing the emergence of another competitor.

Sponsors also use demarketing to help consumers make healthier and more responsible buying choices. In a situation where resources need to be conserved; or where the product causes health complications, demarketing becomes necessary.

There is also the idea that demarketing is ultimately cheaper as a marketing strategy. Hoarding goods to create scarcity (a demarketing move) also increases the market value of the product.

In their 2010 MIT paper, Mikl´os-Thal and Zhang posited that in a situation where marketing costs were non-existent; the producers faced no capacity constraints; scarcity did not increase the value of products, and; the seller had no competition, demarketing would still be necessary to control buyer’s perception of product quality

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Types of Demarketing Ads

There are three major types of demarketing ads, namely:

#1. General Demarketing Ads

When the sponsor of the advertisement aims to discourage all customers from demanding the product, they use demarketing ads. Governments looking to conserve scarce resources or dissuade citizens from purchasing potentially dangerous products often use such ads.

Anti-alcohol ads like the ‘Parents are Monsters’ ad on CNN; the anti-cigarette ads like the ‘Download Cancer’ ad sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the ‘Smoking Isn’t Just Suicide. It’s Murder’ ad by the Chilean Corporation Against Cancer is an example of the general type of demarketing ads.

Similarly, electricity and water advertisement advising consumers to turn off the light or tap are general demarketing ads. An example is the Colgate ‘Every Drop Counts’ commercial of 2016.

#2. Selective Demarketing Ads

Such ads target specific types of people to discourage them from buying a certain product. This could be to protect loyal customers who may be affected by sudden mass interest in a hitherto niche product.

Despite the Fair Housing Act in the US, many complaints were lodged against certain ads which claimed (by stating or implying) not to be interested in catering to the needs of low-income earners or families with children.

#3. Ostensible Demarketing Ads

Although artificial scarcity can be created with company policies and whatnot, putting out advertisements to that effect can send home the point. This type of demarketing ad tends to however create cases of panic-buying, especially if it is an essential product.

Amazon and Modcloth advertise products on their websites with phrases like ‘only 2 left in stock’ and ‘back in stock’ which consumers interpret as ‘you’d better get it now.

Demarketing Ads Strategies

#1. Price Discriminating Demarketing Ads Strategy

Producers can structure demarketing ads so that certain people pay more than others for the same product. especially with online ads that require you to click to purchase.

Companies like Bolt (Taxify) use a price discrimination strategy, selecting a popular location as your destination might incur a larger fare than a less popular location near it. Dell sold the same computers for different prices depending on the kind of customer you registered as. Pay-per-click ads have also been to use price discriminating demarketing ads strategy.

#2. Bait and Switch Demarketing Ads Strategy

Advertising two products in such a way that consumers are persuaded to buy one instead of the other are regarded as bait and switch demarketing. One product is advertised in an unattractive way (usually, with an unattractive price) just to push consumers to buy the other. This strategy is often unethical and illegal.

Read More: Ansoff marketing matrix explained: Practical examples, theories, and strategy

Phone companies like Samsung and Apple often advertise their expensive flagship phones alongside cheaper higher mid-range phones to sell more units from the mid-range line. Consumers often come away feeling they are getting the bang for their buck.

#3. Stock Outage Demarketing Ads Strategy

Stock outages are very advantageous to sellers because it allows them to make increment in the prices of goods. Also, consumers tend to buy more when they think that scarcity is impending.
Starbucks’ ‘unicorn frappuccino only available for a few days’ ads on its website caused Starbucks to see a lot of orders from customers and the drink quickly sold out within the first day.

#4. Crowding Cost Demarketing Ads Strategy

This demarketing ads strategy is usually employed during festive periods like Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas when such sales events as Black Friday are held. Ads are put out to target people who are willing to pay more to bypass the teeming crowds expected on such occasions.

#5. Differentiation Demarketing Ads Strategy

This involves publicly announcing unlikely marketing decisions targeted at the 4Ps of marketing, namely price, place, product, and promotion. In this demarketing ads strategy, ads might announce an increase in price, unfavorable conditions in a particular place or with a particular product, or altogether refuse to market their products.

Demarketing Ads Examples

More real-world examples of demarketing ads include:

  • ‘Are you Pouring on the Pounds?’ ad by New York City Health Department aimed at discouraging consumers from buying popular sugary beverages.
  • ‘Secondhand Smoke is Firsthand Death’ ads targeted at parents who smoke, encouraging them to quit buying cigarettes and so doing, stop endangering their children.
  • ‘Cancer Cures Smoking’ ad by the Cancer Patients Aid Association.
  • ‘Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself’ ad aimed at discouraging consumers from buying alcohol.
  • Anti-marijuana ad by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Partnership for a Drug-Free America (now known as Partnership for Drug-Free Kids).

Demarketing is the conscious act of unselling a product by reducing the desire people have for it. Demarketing ads can be a useful marketing tool if used properly.

Read more on marketing

What are the 5 D’s of marketing?

These digital platforms are used by businesses to engage with both present and potential clients. Digital devices, digital platforms, media, digital data, and digital technology are the five pillars of digital marketing.

What are the 4 D’s of digital marketing?

The four Ds of new market share is dedication, data, distribution, and disruption.

What is disturbed marketing?

Disruptive marketing entails employing novel strategies that go against the grain. Disruptive marketers experiment with risk-taking, novel strategies that have never been explored before rather than adhering to conventional marketing expertise.

What is demarketing examples?

An example of widespread demarketing is encouraging the usage of paperless products. Some businesses have switched to electronic versions of their services or goods in order to reduce the use of paper and preserve forests and other natural resources.

What is demarketing and green marketing?

Green demarketing is an example of green marketing and corporate social responsibility.

What is the meaning of 4 Ps?

The four main components of a marketing strategy are product, price, place, and promotion, often referred to as the marketing mix or the four P’s of marketing.

What are the 4 Principles of marketing Advertising?

Product, price, place, and promotion are the four fundamental marketing principles.

What are the 3 C’s of digital marketing?

The three Cs of social media marketing are community, commerce, and content.

What is 5d in digital marketing?

Digital devices, digital platforms, digital media, digital data, and digital technology make up the five pillars of digital marketing.

What are the 8 marketing strategies?

A marketing strategy is a long-term plan for attaining a business’ objectives through an understanding of client needs and the development of a distinct and long-lasting competitive advantage.

FAQs On Demarketing Ads

Why does a company engage in demarketing?

There are four supposed reasons why businesses engage in demarketing. These include crisis prevention, sustainability of the place product, market segmentation and targeting, and lessening the effect of seasonality. 

What is the primary objective of demarketing?

Demarketing is a technique used by marketers to find certain groups of people whose wants might be met by more specialized products. This technique is for reducing demand for items, particularly those that impose unwelcome costs on society.

What is demarketing in social marketing?

Demarketing, in the context of social marketing, is defined as the goal of reducing demand by discouraging the consumption or usage of products that are harmful to one’s health. An example of social demarketing is the use of polythene bags and our greenhouse effect. 

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