I don’t know about you, but I love a good prank, especially one that teaches us a lesson in human behavior. You may have seen the recent viral marketing experiment Payless conducted, using a group of social media influencers as perceived value “guinea pigs” (if you haven’t, please take a minute to watch it here). In an effort to show the power of brand perception, Payless rebranded their products under a fake upscale footwear label called “Palessi”. Influencers were invited to the “store opening” where they paid anywhere from $200- $600 for shoes that actually cost under $30.
Although comical, this experiment proves the power of influence is as strong as ever in today’s social and retail environment. Yes, we can all chuckle at these individuals who were duped by the perceived value of a pair of shoes, but are they alone? Haven’t we all been influenced at one time or another to make purchases based on social concepts (exclusivity, acceptance, aspiration, etc.)? With apps like Instagram playing a huge part in our daily lives, we are constantly being exposed to what others are wearing or buying.
Consumers are directly using social media to find out what’s happening in fashion, as one-third currently use this tool to discover the latest fashion trends (myself included). Social media also provides brands with a platform that goes beyond influencing a consumer, but helps build a relationship with them. The power once held by a convincing ad in a glossy magazine has now transferred over to the accounts we follow on our Instagram feed. Of those that look to social media for fashion trends, over half reported following at least one fashion brand. This marks an opportunity for brands to interact with followers who are already passionate about style and trends.
Now with the holiday shopping season in full swing, we are expecting to see more purchases on mobile devices. We have all seen an uptick of ads in our newsfeeds (How did Instagram know I was thinking about that?), and the number of products on our favorite influencer’s posts. Online shopping has been growing double-digits each year*, making it vital for retailers and brands to continue to develop stronger blended retail strategies. This will make mobile an increasingly important component of online, and holiday shopping.
As for those influencers who paid hundreds of dollars for Payless shoes, in addition to taking home a valuable lesson in brand perception, they also got the keep the shoes, free of charge.
Source: The NPD Group/Omnibus September 2018
*The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service 12ME October’18