Today Clarks Shoes are the latest victim of a media frenzy, they have been accused of sexism, fairly or unfairly?
A Marketing Faux Pas
Clarks have released their latest range of school shoes; somebody in the Clarks ‘shoe naming department’ has deemed it appropriate to call the boys’ shoe ‘Leader’, while the equivalent girls’ shoe has been awarded the name, ‘Dolly Babe’. It is an atrocious choice, I understand that. Who on earth has been paid money to think of that name? Why did nobody else in the organisation think to change it? The shoes in question could have been called so many names that empowered their wearers.
Are boys ‘Leaders’ while girls are ‘Dolly Babes’? Certainly not.
Product Naming Can be Effective
Perhaps a more effective marketing ploy would be to engage their audience in a shoe naming competition. Alternatively, strive for aspirational names that increase the desirability of the product. Clarks could have been very clever and ‘imagined up’ a range of names that appealed to parents and their children. Clearly when choosing shoes, the fit is the priority, but product names can influence the buyer.
Marketing – Make it Desirable
Many years ago I was content marketing for a toy retailer. I chose to name a range of nursery mobile animals with humorous and quirky names. The result was a dramatic increase in sales. Why? Well the names I chose were aimed at engaging the target market (adults), invoking an emotional response. It worked. Each toy transitioned from an inanimate object, to a character with a back story and the potential to bring joy into the lives of all who entered the nursery. Personification is a powerful marketing tool, we all like to identify with what we are buying. There are myriad intelligent ways to approach marketing, and many are yet to be thought of.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Clarks could have walked this path more wisely, of course ‘Dolly Babe’ is a ridiculous and demeaning name but ultimately, the important thing is the quality of the product. Is it fit for purpose? Clarks have a well-desrved good reputation in the shoe industry and sensible parents have trusted the welfare of their children’s feet to experienced fitters for many years. On a personal note, we have left Clarks with no new shoes on more than one occasion, the result of having a child with oddly shaped feet, ethically minded fitters have refused to sell us ill-fitting shoes.
I am sure lessons will be learned and Clarks will produce more sensitively named shoes in the future.
Would this ‘slip-up’ stop you from buying from Clarks?