Social media influencers, that is who.
Payless, a brand known for its budget footwear, opened a fake ephemeral store called "Palessi" in a Los Angeles mall and invited influencers to the grand opening. The store was filled with disguised Payless shoes.
"I would pay $ 400 or $ 500," said a woman in a television commercial, holding a pair of sneakers at $ 19.99. Another customer calls Payless shoes "elegant and sophisticated".
A client gasps with disbelief when the secret is revealed. "Shut up, are you serious?" she says.
About 80 influencers attended two evenings, according to Payless. They paid $ 3,000. One customer spent $ 640 on a pair of boots, which represents a profit margin of 1,800%. Payless, however, gave them back their money and let them keep the shoes. Payless said influential people had received a small stipend to participate.
Payless said the social experiment was meant to remind shoppers that affordable Payless shoes are also fashionable.
This type of marketing, in which real customers are shocked or surprised to create a viral buzz, has been tried many times.