The Era of Limited Release

Posted by Jocelyn Schoolsky on Apr 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM
Jocelyn Schoolsky

When it comes to limited edition products, there’s no denying that scarcity drives serious demand (and maybe a little FOMO). So why aren’t more brands leveraging this type of marketing strategy?


The limited edition strategy is a great way for brands of all sizes to attract new customers and drive them both in-store and online.

  • Eliminate the need to discount – In a retail world full of discounting, customers will gladly pay full price for a limited edition pair of sneakers or eye shadow palette.
  • Create hype and brand exposure – The anticipation of a new product with limited distribution is exciting… and if properly marketed, the exposure can be massive.
  • Acquire new customers – Small or large, retailers and brands are always looking for new and creative ways to obtain new consumers.

But entering the limited edition game can be tricky. Just having hard-to-get product isn’t enough. Walking the line of driving demand and hype while not simultaneously frustrating some of your most loyal customers is easier said than done. For example, if your website or mobile app can’t handle the increased traffic, you had better get that sorted out ahead of time. Your reservation and shopping experience has to be so good that the excitement around the release outweighs the potential disappointment of items selling out.

There are a few players out there that aren’t just doing it right; they’re paving the way. Let’s explore a handful of retailers and brands that truly understand consumer demand and how to best use limited edition products to their advantage.


Though limited edition products can be found in every industry, footwear and beauty have been at the forefront of the ‘limited edish’ game.

Foot Locker

Launch Locator

If you’re not familiar with the Foot Locker app, I highly suggest downloading it. Though I might be a little biased (seeing as Foot Locker is a GPShopper customer), the app-based “Launch Locator” feature is designed to make the experience of buying hard-to-get items feel slick and painless. But, with a powerful proprietary algorithm working behind the scenes, this task is far from easy.

So, what exactly does the Launch Locator do? The reservation process allows its most loyal Sneakerheads to receive first dibs on highly coveted footwear. The more you shop, the more likely you are to be awarded with a “Head Start.” This gives users extra time or opportunities to reserve product. Another way to earn “Head Starts” is by checking in at a local Foot Locker store. If you are lucky enough to reserve the latest pair of Yeezys, Ultra Boosts, NMDs or Jordans, you’ll receive a confirmation code to present in-store for pick up. This buy in-app, pick up in-store shopping experience promotes not only additional foot traffic but increased loyalty to boot.



If you’ve ever been to NYC’s SoHo neighborhood, you’ve likely seen the massive line for Supreme releases on Thursdays. The iconic streetwear label has successfully grown a massive cult-like following around the world and many are eager to get their hands on the brand’s latest limited edition drop. When it comes to footwear, Supreme is known for its extensive collaborations with Nike, Louis Vuitton, Vans, Timberland and Clarks. According to Vogue, a Supreme drop, for those who haven’t experienced it, is an event.

Supreme founder James Jebbia reiterates its value prop and why their limited edition strategy has been so successful. “We can have a leather jacket for $1,500, and if it’s a good value, young people will understand that. But we also want to have the feeling that this won’t be here in a month. When I grew up, I think everybody felt that way. It’s like, if I love this, it may not be here, so I should buy it,” says Jebbia.

Dose of Colors

Dose of Colors

Prior to Dose of Colors collaborating with my two favorite makeup artists, I was always skeptical of their products. Every now and then, I’d add items to my cart but wondered if I’d be happy with the quality. It wasn’t until Dose of Colors announced their Katy x Desi collection that I decided to become a customer. Between their reasonable price points and creamy lip formulas, I’m no longer concerned about future purchases. And boy am I glad I bought the eye shadow palette, highlighter and lipstick right away – they sold out almost instantly. I’m looking forward to their next limited edition collaboration.

Ultimately, limited edition is a sure-fire way for retailers and brands to create visibility and desire. In GPShopper’s own experience, we’ve seen many do it right, but we’ve also seen some release programs that don’t always align with the customers’ needs. If you’re thinking about implementing a limited edition strategy, don’t forget to consider the three most important things:

  • One, create short term buzz while also building on long-term desirability.
  • Two, identify a need or personal connection that will excite your customers.
  • And lastly, adding a new face or energy through influencers will undoubtedly create long-lasting, loyal consumers.

Topics: Retail Industry Research, Omnichannel Retail

About GPShopper

GPShopper is a mobile commerce platform and app developer for retailers, using technology to transform the total retail experience.  GPShopper is a Synchrony solution. 
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