Friday, December 21, 2018

Payless sold its discount shoes for $600 a pair at mock luxury influencer event

By Mike Snider of USA TODAY. Excerpt:
"The privately held Topeka, Kansas-based shoe seller executed the reverse of a bait-and-switch operation recently with a luxury influencer event held in Santa Monica, California.

Payless took over a former Armani store, renamed the retail location as "Palessi" and stocked the outlet with its discount-priced boots, heels, tennis and leisure shoes. Then, it invited a flock of partygoers and sold them the shoes, typically priced at $20 to $40 in Payless stores, at inflated designer price tags of $200 to $600.

"Palessi" sold about $3,000 worth of shoes within a few hours and, after the shoppers paid, staffers told them that the shoes were actually from Payless, according to AdWeek, which reported on the event Wednesday. "They are elegant (and) sophisticated," one shopper described her purchase as, in a Payless video posted on YouTube.

Then, the woman, who Payless says is a real person not an actor, was told the shoes actually were the handiwork of Payless. "You’ve got to be kidding me," she said.

Another shopper, this one a man, said about his purchase, "I could tell it's made with high-quality material.""
 This reminds me of conspicuous consumption, a well known term in economics and sociology. See Thorstein Veblen and What is Conspicuous Consumption. Veblen first coined the term over 100 years ago. The idea is that rich people buy things just to show how rich they are.

Adam Smith may have beaten Veblen to the punch. In The Wealth of Nations, he wrote:

"With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eyes is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves. In their eyes the merit of an object which is in any degree either useful or beautiful, is greatly enhanced by its scarcity, or by the great labour which it requires to collect any considerable quantity of it, a labour which nobody can afford to pay but themselves. Such objects they are willing to purchase at a higher price than things much more beautiful and useful, but more common." (the entire book is online)
See also an earlier blog post I did called Conspicuous Consumption, Conspicuous Virtue, Thorstein Veblen (and Adam Smith, too!) . See also Doctoral Thesis Says Rich People Spend More on Conspicuous Things

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is conspicuous consumption at its best. shows no regard for the quality of the material, but more of where the product comes from? it looks like most people like the idea of opulence no matter the material in some cases. It's eerie that we live in a society where people can consume such things for 1000% markup and other can't afford to eat. I like the idea of capitalism, but this is a bit bizarre.