Payless Shoes


Earlier this year, a new luxury shoe store opened in a Santa Monica mall.

The store, called Palessi, invited fashion writers and other influencers to its grand opening.

The fashionistas got first crack at the merchandise.

They paid up to $600 for the shoes…

…and then they celebrated.

One held up a pair and chirped, “I can tell it’s made with high-quality material.”

Another tried on a pair of “gold” high-tops and announced, “I would pay 400, 500. Yeah. People are gonna be like… ‘Uhhh! … where’d you get those? Those are amazing.’”

Then the interviewer revealed the truth…

“These are actually from Payless.”

Yeah…that “Payless.”

The one formerly known as “Payless Shoe Source.”

Fashionista with the $500 gold sneakers couldn’t believe it. “Shut up! Are you serious!? Wait…did I just pay too much?”

We laugh at the foolish fashionistas.

And we applaud Payless for the brilliant marketing gag (Here’s an Adweek article with videos from “Palessi’s” grand opening. Payless plans to turn excerpts into a series of ads that will run during this holiday season.)

But let’s dig a little deeper on that question: “Did I just pay too much?”

Somewhere in Santa Monica or on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago or on 5th Avenue in New York, a real luxury shoe boutique is selling shoes that look much like the ones Palessi was pedaling.

Someone is paying $500 for those shoes. She’ll go to a party next weekend and an admirer will ask, “Where’d you get those!?”

The fancy-shoe-wearer will answer proudly. She’ll let anyone who’s listening know that she shops at that high-end boutique on that fancy street in that nice part of town.

And she’ll feel really good about herself.

You may call her a snob.

I call her a status-hound.

Here’s the marketing lesson: Self-esteem drives many buying decisions.

For many, status fuels self-esteem.

For others, being “smart” fuels self-esteem.

The real high-end boutique with the $500 shoes delivers status. And for those who want status, $500 is the right price to pay. In fact, the more you pay, the greater the status.

Payless delivers smarts. It’s for the shopper who doesn’t care as much about status. It’s for the shopper who feels better about themselves because they got decent quality, at a great price.

What drives your prospects and customers? A quest for status? A quest for smarts? Other emotional triggers (there are many)?

The more you know about what triggers your prospects and customers, the more effective your marketing, and the stronger your business. 

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.

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