Monthly Archives: August 2013

BOBS: Skechers’ Blatant Rip-Off of TOMS

This past weekend I saw a TV commercial about BOBS by Skechers, a shoe that almost looks like a slipper yet comes in a variety of cool colours and patterns. But what is really interesting about this is that they will give one pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe that is sold! Does this sound a little familiar – ’cause it should.

Ever heard of a little brand called TOMS? TOMS has steadily risen in popularity since it’s launch a few years ago and it seems to be growing at a steady pace. Their main claim to fame was the One-to-One model which means that for every pair of TOMS sold, the company would give one pair of shoes to children in need. Soon TOMS became the model company and consumers started to really take notice. Apparently Skechers did too – maybe a little too much.

Exhibit A: Take a look at the two shoes side by side.

TOMS vs BOBS

Now I’m no genius, but it seems to me that Skecher’s may have copied TOMS.

Ok so what’s the marketing side of this?

Well, one could argue that Skechers is being a smart second mover into the market and could capitalize on TOMS’ mistakes. But that can easily be dismissed by TOMS’ huge market share and brand equity. As a first mover, TOMS’ advantages are far too great for Skecher’s to be truly competitive.  One could also argue that Skechers is trying to use this as a CSR initiative because they truly want to help, but I’m skeptical of that too. From what I know about TOMS, their owner created this idea after a trip abroad and seeing so many children without shoes. That’s a genuine business built off of a need that was identified.

I’ve tried to do some digging on BOBS but I have yet to read a similar story about a Skechers’ exec going abroad and witnessing the need first-hand. Maybe I’m wrong and a Skechers’ exec actually did that, but for now I don’t think that ever happened. After reading another blog about this topic, I found out that BOBS or Skechers doesn’t actually give away any shoes – they make a donation to a charity called Soles4Souls.

I think that the true intent behind BOBS by Skechers is profit. They noticed a trend in the market driven by one company, TOMS. Instead of trying to find a creative way to compete and earn some of the market, they took the lazy route and did EXACTLY THE SAME THING. This is truly a rip-off of the TOMS brand and a very sad attempt to earn more revenue by a major corporation. Skechers is a huge company and they have millions of dollars to work with, yet they stole a philanthropic idea from a relatively small company. Skechers couldn’t even come up with a different design or a more unique name! Shame on Skechers!

Personally, I would expect to find something like this from the Chinese fakes as  you commonly see with Apple products or high end goods. It’s not uncommon to see a knock-off with a similar sounding name and almost identical product in Asia. I have no idea how the people at Skechers think this is a good idea. In my opinion this is brand suicide!

I would think that consumers these days are able to tell the difference between good intentions (TOMS) and someone riding on the coat tails of good intentions (BOBS).  Maybe Skechers made BOBS so similar on purpose to confuse consumers and get them to mistakenly buy BOBS. Hopefully consumers are savvy enough to realize what Skechers is doing here and they will revolt. This is truly one of those “are you kidding me?” moments.

Ok, that’s my little rant on this topic. What do you guys think? Am I looking at this the wrong way?

-AK

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The truth behind Apple’s new marketing

Hello again… I realize it’s been many months since I last posted but I’ve been busy on the job hunt and doing co-op work terms.

I haven’t been motivated to write anything lately but after seeing a flurry of Apple’s new TV ads, the wheels started turning in my head. For years and years, the focus of Apple’s marketing has been on the product and how it is superior to anything out there. The most famous of these were of course the Mac vs PC ads. Here’s a video that has some of those famous ads.

However recently I’ve noticed a very distinct change in Apple’s approach. They are no longer being that cocky, in-your-face brand that they used to be. Now they are trying to rebrand themselves as a local brand by having “Designed by Apple in California” in every single ad. They’re even carrying this California brand into their products by breaking from tradition and naming their new OSX “Mavericks” instead of a cat species. Sure this is a direct response to their main competitor, Samsung, not being American. But it is also a response to their Asian operations and the mass criticism they’ve received over the sweatshop controversy. It also attempts to dampen the fact that Apple outsources their labour to Asia, while Apple’s home country of America suffers through a massive unemployment crisis.

But it even goes beyond that.

Instead of focusing on their “superior” products, Apple’s new ads are now focusing on the experience that their products give the user.

Take a look

The Truth

The real reason why Apple has shifted it’s marketing strategy: Their products are no longer superior. Apple’s innovation has slowed over the last few years, largely in part to the death of Steve Jobs, and competitors like Samsung and Microsoft have caught up. Samsung has released some really cool products lately and their innovative technology is giving them increased market share. Look for a huge increase in integration among their product lines in the near future (another edge over Apple).

Apple knows this and that’s why they can’t do ads like they used to. So, how do you try to increase sales with products that aren’t blowing anyone away anymore? Through emotion and affect.

It’s known that a piece of marketing that elicits an emotional response from a consumer will improve brand perception and eventually get an increase in sales. Playing on the emotions of the consumer is one of the most effective forms of marketing because it establishes a connection between the brand and consumer that feels authentic. For the most part that’s true – but in the case of Apple, its just a tactic to try and make up for their lack of innovation. In a society that is increasingly tech-crazy and informed, I’m not sure how long this tactic will work with consumers.

For years Apple was saying “Look at what I can do, Look at what I can do! Its amazing right? Way better than anyone else!”

Now their dialogue has shifted to “It doesn’t matter that we aren’t the most innovative anymore, our products make you feel good right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Apple lover. I’ve got a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 4s and numerous iPods. But as a marketing student, I couldn’t let this one go. I think what they’re doing is smart since the majority of people won’t think too deeply about it, but it’s easy for a marketer to identify how and why they’re switching things up.

In summary: Apple can’t keep up with Samsung. So they have to rebrand their products to a “local” brand and change their advertisements to focus on experience rather than technology.

-AK

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