Influencers from Around the World – Scarcity at Italian Weddings

This month’s Influencers from Around the World post is from my friend Marco Germani. Marco is from Rome, Italy, and will be sharing an interesting story about persuasion and Italian weddings. The wedding photos are from Marco and Monika’s wedding last summer. They’re expecting their first child this summer. I’m sure Marco would love to hear from you so reach out to him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Scarcity at Italian Weddings
I recently tried an interesting application of the principle of scarcity at the wedding of a couple of friends here in Rome, where I live. It is common practice in Italy that, when a wedding takes place, beside the “official” photographer of the event, a “clandestine” photographer magically shows up outside from the church. This guy, with no authorization at all, takes pictures of all the guests as they are entering the place, asking them to pose for him and playing on the fact that they don’t really know whether he is the official photographer or not. He then takes a quick picture of the bride and groom at the very beginning of the ceremony and then rushes to a mobile photo studio parked in the back of the church, to very quickly create nice cardboard-framed pictures of each guest, close to the picture of their newly-married friends.
When the celebration ends, the fellow waits for the guests to exit the church and, one by one, propose them to buy his newly-made artwork, usually for a price of about 8 Euro. As strange as it might appear, this technique works wonders and these guys usually sell almost every picture they’ve taken. The reasons being that people see in front of them a picture of themselves, nicely carved in a paperboard frame and close to the picture of the bride and groom and, for the principle of reciprocation, enhanced by the surprise (most people don’t go to weddings every day and are not aware of this technique) feel a certain compulsion to buy and to pay the overpriced amount. I have to add these pictures are after all a nice souvenir of the event, so I am not against this service, even though I think it is presented in a questionable way.
Being aware of how the principle of scarcity works, during the specific event I recently attended, I decided to try and use it at my own advantage. When the photographer proposed selling the picture to me, I kindly declined and moved away from him. I then waited for him to complete all the sales and, when he was done, I approached him again. At this point, he had in his hands only a few pictures of people who didn’t buy and those pictures were absolutely worthless for him, probably ready for the dustbin. I told him I was still thinking about buying the picture but that I thought the price was too high. He immediately proposed me a price of five Euro. At this point, I casually pulled out from my pocket four one Euro coins (which I had previously prepared) and told him I only happened to have four Euro in coins, would that do for him? He grabbed the coins in a split second, gave me the framed picture and we were both happy campers!
Now, I have to specify that, having a friend who works in photography, he previously explained to me that the cost to print the picture, for the photographer, should have been around two Euro, so, considering myself an ethical persuader, it was my duty to offer a price which also included a reasonable profit margin for the “smart” photographer, granting me the best buying price at the same time.
3 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I like the way you think, Marco. Preparation is key to success, and you were ready to play the photographer's game and succeed due to your preparation. I'd say that preparation is a 'scarcity' in the world today — at weddings, in our personal live, and especially at work. Good for you for being prepared.

  2. Paul C
    Paul C says:

    That's an interesting arrangement between buyer and seller. It would seem that the buyer has the upper hand in this scenario since the seller will likely not sell that picture of them anywhere else. However, the buyer is also giving in to the rules of scarcity since this is the only photo of them, in this place, at this time, and it will never happen again. They feel compelled to purchase!

  3. Brian
    Brian says:

    @Anonymous – definition of luck, where preparation meets opportunity.

    @Paul – nice observation on fact that it might be the only photo at that place and time. Sort of a power struggle of influence. In my mind the advantage goes to Marco because he didn't have any money on the line like the photographer so the photographer had more to lose in this instance.


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