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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