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Fuel Shortages – an influencing ‘Perfect Storm’



At 05:10 this morning (I'm usually an early riser), I managed to get my first fuel in over a week. £30 took my car from less than a quarter of a tank to nearly half a tank.


How did we get here?


Well, it’s reported that a leaked, confidential BP report to a cabinet meeting on the 16th September was the spark (Scarcity - part 1) – the divulgence of this confidential information got the ball rolling, resulting in an increase in the desirability of, or need for, fuel.


People then started to see queues at fuel stations – this behaviour can make us feel compelled to act in the same way (even if we consider it to be selfish). I admit to falling prey to this instinctive feeling – especially when there was no certainty as to when the situation would change. Words such as ‘rationing’, ‘limited’ and ‘uncertainty’ strike at the very core of peoples' fears. This of course is classic Social Proof – in times of uncertainty people will follows the crowd. In a wider context, there will be numerous procurement people at present who will bear witness to these challenges throughout various supply chains when securing certain products or services.


Combine the above with Scarcity (part 2) – pictures on the TV and internet and reports from the media suggesting that fuel was only available in one third of stations, exacerbating the ‘perceived’ need and increasing queues still further.


Lastly, let’s add Authority into the mix. The news channel stories (source of information and knowledge) and the fact that the army are being mobilised – suggests that even the people at the very top are concerned. This, of course is counter to how Boris is currently trying to use Authority in a different way – ‘Things are going back to normal’ although people seem yet to be convinced…


So, the combination of Scarcity, Social Proof and Authority creates the greatly heightened demand.


I wonder if there are some marketeers out there who are musing as to how they might apply these concepts to their product ranges?!…


Sam Macbeth, 29th September 2021

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