Payless Disguised Itself As An Upscale Shoe Store And Got People To Drop Thousands On Cheap Shoes

November 30, 2018  |  

Women shopping for shoes

Source: Felix Wirth / Getty

Let me start out by saying, I love Payless. On my restricted writer’s pockets, Payless keeps me in comfortable, stylish shoes, for less (and no, this isn’t an ad). I’ve never had the means to purchase pricey shoes, even if higher quality shoes tend to last a little longer and hug your feet a tad more.

Payless fills the gap between budget and style, and it has served that function for me and my shoe choices since I was a kid. I have no shame telling people where I copped my shoes when they say “Where did you get those?” The answer is 9/10 times, Payless.

They often are shocked by how cute they are, no lie.

Payless caught on to this trend, understanding that people are often more swayed by branding than actual shoe quality and style. Some brilliant marketers capitalized off of this phenomenon and decided to create a pop up shop called “Palessi,” stocked with Payless shoes under the guise of an “upscale” shoe store.

They then invited fashion influencers and trendsetters to try on $20 shoes with a $645 price tag. The results? People were eating the cheap shoes up like diamond candy.

The experiment begs the question, how do we decide what to spend money on? There’s a reason big corporations spend million dollar budgets on marketing and advertising, and that’s because the quirky messaging and jingles or branding pulls at your dollar. Just labeling something “upscale” suddenly has massive profit benefits even if quality doesn’t necessarily increase with cost.

Even if this little “prank” actually helps feed into Payless’ bottom line through brand awareness and organic word of mouth marketing, it does help us look to look deeper into our spending choices as consumers. Maybe we should give “cheaper” brands a second look OR think twice before we idolize labels. Especially if the only difference between products is how it’s dressed up.

Take a look at the experiment below:



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