Payless/ Palessi: Does It Matter to Today’s Consumers?

Will That Payless/ Palessi Experiment Really Do Much To Change The Brand’s Negative Stigma?

I’m smelling ADDY or Shorty marketing award coming for Payless ShoeSource for its latest marketing ploy to reprove its relevancy to the millennial crowd. If you haven’t already checked out their latest social experiment featuring social influencers, you’re in for a treat. Basically, Payless created a fake premium footwear brand, Palessi, and hosted a pop-up event in L.A. featuring the latest in Payless shoes. Why they called it Palessi? Probably to make their own name sound Italian and fancy because, of course, consumers just eat that up. Long story short, attendees went crazy over the selection and bought typical Payless shoes for way more that they’d usually cost. You can read more here.

So, the real question is, will that marketing stunt be enough make a dent in the long held stigma facing the Payless brand. Let’s start at the positive, what Payless has working for them. Well, for years they have been leaders in low-cost mass-market shoes and size inclusion. They’ve had trendy, contemporary styles and extended women sizes for as long as I can remember. Bad news is that their shoes aren’t made with the highest quality standards when it comes to comfort or materials.  So, consumers believe that Payless shoes are of low quality. I personally don’t shop there because their shoes are too wide for my feet, but I probably would browse there more often if I could ever find Narrow width shoes there.

The best way to see how a negative stigma impacts a brand, especially in footwear, look no further than history. What I mean is when consumers are done with a brand, we are through. Brands like Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, and Nike carry huge social weight. Consumers, especially those with socio economic disadvantages, love the aspirational and intrinsic value of brands. It makes us feel a sense of pride and achievement in life when we are able to sport the latest styles from the new “it’ brand. If you’re caught wearing generic versions of Jordans or Polo shoes, best believe you will be the butt of some jokes on the playground or at the local high school lunch table. Why? It’s simple. With some brands, “you’ve arrived” while others mean you took a detour. I’m not good with analogies, but hopefully, you somewhat get my point.

Let’s get back on Payless. Can a brand change its image through rebranding? Claro que sí! We’ve seen it happen with Reebok, Puma, New Balance and even Sketchers make comebacks within the last 5 years with their endorsment partnerships with celebs. Payless is doing something similar with this social influencer campaign. Well, I say maybe for the short term, but long-term I definitely see that Payless will need to invest more in shifting the brand perception as consumers become more quality and environmentally conscious. Here’s the thing, consumers, not just millennials, want more from brands today. We want to feel something when we put on that new top or those natural wash jeans. The Payless team may eventually have to create another brand that will be part of an aspirational lifestyle. The Payless team could do that with higher quality/ environmentally-friendly materials; new fit or comfort technologies; or aligning themselves with relevant social causes.

For now, I’d say let’s congratulate Payless on making headlines and reminding consumers that it’s still open for our business. Hey, I even noticed more cars than usual this weekend as I visited my local Payless ShoeSource. So, hopefully, this holiday season will be kind to them.

Do you shop at Payless? If so (not), why do (don’t) you?

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