Payless shoes recently opened a popup store under the brand “Palessi,” positioned as a luxury an elite shoe store founded by fictional designer Bruno Palessi. Shoes that would have cost $30 were relabelled and priced as high as $1,800.
At an private, invite only event, shoppers were given the opportunity to be the first to experience the store. People went nuts. They loved the store and loved the shoes.
It’s easy to think that the stunt shows how easily people can be duped. And sure, the event wasn’t genuine but it doesn’t mean people are foolish.
What Payless did was interact with a specific type of person in the specific way they wanted.
These people were not Payless customers. They don’t care about a deal. They don’t care even if shoes are of higher quality. They’re buying the experience of being the first to own what they believe is an exclusive design.
They’re early adopters. They want the world to know that they value being first or that they’re affluent.
Payless’s goal was to attract new customers. They felt that by presenting their inventory in a new light would make people realize that the shoes they sell are so good that people would be willing to pay $1,800 for them. Unfortunately, they’re missing the point.
The people who would buy shoes at Palessi are not the people who would buy at Payless. They sell completely different things.