Vinegar and Ice Cream, Cialdini, and

For Handshake 2.0:

Two weeks ago, I ordered thoroughly indulgent gourmet vinegar: Cavedoni Botte Piccola Italian Balsamic. The normally $56 bottle was selling for $39.99 on At first I resisted temptation, but after reading the enthusiastic discussion on the forums, I gave in. I am one of many who daily submit to the site’s brilliant business model.

Woot purchases a single item in bulk and offers that item at a large discount until it runs out. Cialdini discussed this “weapon of influence“: scarcity. We do not like when any choice, including the choice to buy, is taken away. Thus, we are more likely to buy something we know will disappear, just because we still have the opportunity to do so.

Woot earns consumer trust using forums where customers discuss each offer. Buyers give honest and often critical opinions, increasing confidence in the system. Wine.woot even has a Labrat program in which buyers are rush-delivered an extra bottle of wine for free in exchange for giving their opinion of the wine before the offer ends.

My vinegar arrived! After marveling over the fancy packaging and fiddling with the cork-nozzle contraption, I served myself a single scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and drizzled the balsamic over it. I slid a tiny bite into my mouth.  I was at once thankful I hadn’t wasted my meager funds on an unworthy subject and overwhelmingly happy at the sensations going on in my mouth and brain.

To Woot:  Cheers!  I wish I’d thought of it first!


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