What the “Payless” experiment reveals about Marketing and Society.
In the age of gullible perception of luxury, we’re drawn to figures of social representation; the class hierarchy — how we wish to be viewed alongside the brand’s image.
To catch up with the Payless experiment, the brand associated with affordable shoes —usually selling for about $20 a pair; the company attempted a social experiment by establishing a “fake” High-End Luxury Brand by the name of “Palessi”, in an attempt to evaluate consumer behaviour.
Payless created this very scenario, in Santa Monica, by redesigning a former Armani Store; offering their usual products costing between $20–$40, with the help of DCX Growth Accelerator agency to invite “influencers” in an attempt to evaluate their perception of the “fake” Luxury Brand “Palessi”.
Reports claim the influencers were willing to pay upwards of $500 for the same shoes, rebranded — breaking nearly $3,000 is sales in the early hours of the stunt.
No financial harm was done though, as the clients were refunded the cash after revealing the shoes were in-fact from “Payless”; YUCK! (Keep the change!)
Can’t admit I can say the same about the damage done to the self-esteem of the susceptible “influencers”.
Wait, what did you just say? Payless? Never heard of that place.
I thought Payless was a valley, a river maybe? I don’t really know, I was never too good at Geography. Or is it Biology? Which one is it? Oh God, I think I left the stove on. I gotta get out of this filthy store, we’ve all been lied to!
Well, that wasn’t EXACTLY the reaction of the customers — I’ll just let the clips speak for themselves;
Courtesy of Payless (disgusting, really? I thought you meant Páÿleśs…you know…the umm…mountain, was it? Or was it a restaurant?);
Admittedly, this is brilliant marketing for Payless — who’ve taken advantage in this experiment revealing just how “brand perception” plays a role in how much a consumer may be willing to pay.
A store serving up a nice decor, a high-end image, those wonderful backdrops creates the illusion that we’re in an “Exclusive” environment; one for the elites.
Obviously, one doesn’t want to be seen shopping at Payless — so why not go to Palessi, you know…the umm…really High-End Fake Fashion Store?
Or was it a country in the Middle-East…I wouldn’t know.
It is worth nothing just how gullible influencers can create an image for a brand; and how often consumers will fall victim to it.
Who doesn’t like bragging rights to the word “exclusive” attached to their purchases?
The packaging, the aura of self-worth, the self-esteem boost, the carved logo, the indication of quality, umm…this one looks like it’s made from Rare Chewbacca Fur — $10,000? I’ll TAKE IT!
‘Exclusivity’ is a drug; and like other drugs, it preys upon the minds of unsatisfiable thirst of the unquenchable satisfaction existing within human nature.
We deep down “want” to be part of a club we’re not usually allowed access to.
In this era of social-media marketing, “Image” is everything.
Let me give an example of my own experience,
Incase you didn’t know — The Football for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, is in fact manufactured in Sialkot, Pakistan. (My Birthplace) — bragging.
2018 World Cup Footballs To Be Made In Pakistan | TOLOnews
Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov said his country will be using footballs manufactured in the Pakistani city…
What is often a little known secret within the industry is that, it’s not JUST the FIFA World Cup Football that is manufactured in Pakistan.
In fact, we as Pakistanis are so good at producing quality reproductions — we’re the local hub for everything from Sports Equipment to Guns.
Whether it be Everlast Boxing Equipment or Glock Pistols — we can copy it all.
Who needs a 3D Printer when you have Pakistan?
VICE even went as far as to document this phenomenon.
Let’s just admit it — if you can produce it; we can reverse engineer, reproduce, relabel, and sell it.
Getting back to the Payless experiment, what is interestingly worth noting is what is says about our very perception of our identity — and how a “brand” can tailor that for us.
Personalities on Social Media divulge on this very phenomenon and thrive.
All the customer really demands is a ‘personal touch’ — which wouldn’t be offered at the warehouse instead of the branded store.
People seldom appreciate the product more than its packaging. A cake tastes better when it’s encased in a box with a silhouette of velvet surrounding it.
Flaunting the word ‘Exclusive’ is the ability to drive a demand where none exists. If one should be so lucky as to have a truly exclusive product; they’d find themselves in an illustrious position and the authoritative right to say ‘NO’ — ‘I’m sorry but that particular item isn’t for sale’; it would simply drive the insatiable consumers to insanity.
Business thrives on the formula of exclusivity; be it a celebrity image, a limited edition, or a personally engraved initial on an item of clothing.
— It’s all the same thing.
Exclusive buyers expect a reward; something they can keep to remind themselves they’re now part of ‘The Club’.
A totem they can flash around to their friends that they’re a part of a cult not every individual is allowed access to — a bragging token.
One of Luxury; one of the never-ending pursuit of social affirmation in an era of hollow identities.