Last month, after the Boston Globe reported the potential closure of the New England Confectionery Company — the country’s oldest continuously operating candymaker and the producer of the (in)famous NECCO wafer — America’s sweet tooth began to ache.
In response to the announcement, sales of NECCO’s chalky candy wafers — which typically get (at best) mixed reviews — increased by 63% as orders poured in from panicked sugar fiends across the country.
What the heck is a NECCO wafer?
The NECCO brand — which has made candy since before the Civil War — is most famous for cranking out 8B Sweethearts in the 6 weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
But nostalgic candy junkies have been quicker to hoard the flagship wafer than the Sweetheart. One woman ordered 100 lbs of wafers over the phone, and another offered her Honda Accord to secure some chalky goodness.
Ahh, the ol’ ‘false-scarcity ploy’
By leaking rumors of their own closure, NECCO used the scarcity principle — which says that scarcity can produce disproportionate demand — to drum up renewed interest in their company.
While many companies advertise products with the classic ‘limited-time-offer’ to simulate short-term scarcity — few are bold enough to throw the hail-mary of threatening to discontinue a product forever.
But if their desperately brilliant bid for a buyer succeeds, NECCO’s “Wafer-mania” will join the Great Twinkie Rush of 2012 and the Saga of the McRib in the pantheon of history’s greatest marketing gimmicks.