Scarcity in the City: Five Lessons from the Food Truck Phenomenon

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The most basic rules of economics involve scarcity and abundance.  Since people can’t have everything they want, they must choose some things and give up others. And sometimes, the objects of desire are not easy to get. This is especially true for Torontonians craving a bite from elusive food trucks, one of the hottest food trends of the year. The general rules for food truck fanatics are as follows:

Why do we rush out to wait in a lunch line? At Caplansky’s, hungry diners can get their Gefilte goodies from the bricks and mortar location, but judging from the line ups, they would rather truck it to Thunderin’ Thelma, the restaurant’s mobile offering. Dying to try Toronto’s newest food truck, The Feisty Jack? The UK expats joke on their twitter feed that they “only serve during full moons…”

With a global village of food offerings in every corner of our city, what has made food trucks so successful? Scarcity. It’s the same reason people line up outside on a frozen January evening for a table at a hot restaurant, such as the newly opened, no-reservations Momofuku Noodle Bar.

But scarcity alone doesn’t build a business, or a brand. Here are five lessons marketers can take from the food truck phenomenon:

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